Urban forests and landscaping renew business and residential districts. If we could not prove it before, the Detroit Land Bank sale of 26 homes earlier this month in Detroit, Michigan, illustrates it perfectly.
The Detroit Land Bank announced a sale of over two dozen houses below market value — at $1,000 apiece — in early May 2019, in hopes that these homes will be renovated and re-occupied, helping to revitalize the neighborhood. The rationale for selling houses at such a low price point is that moving people into these homes and bringing vacant spaces back to productive use will have a huge impact on strengthening the community as a whole.
In addition to the idea of affordable housing, stories like this (watch the video below) are good news for everyone. They show a direct connection from green space to economic revitalization.
A neighborhood’s quality of vegetation correlates to its quality of life, appearance and the appeal of a community. Smart Money Magazine* suggests that consumers value a landscaped home up to 11.3 percent higher than its base price. Whole community landscaping multiplies this percentage — there is a significant link between the value of a property and its proximity to parks, greenbelts and other green spaces.
American Forests is proud of our work at the Osborn Outdoor Education Center adjacent to many of the recent Detroit Land Bank homes for sale. The Osborn Neighborhood Alliance has been working to recreate the community one block at a time, and neighbors have specifically cited the park as a spark for community investment.
Our plantings and workforce development programs at the Osborn Outdoor Education Center, as well as other plantings, nursery developments and training partnerships with the Greening of Detroit, have helped create an inexpensive model for revitalizing vacant land that has been replicated elsewhere in the city.
American Forests started working in Detroit with our Community ReLeaf program in 2013, prioritizing the tree canopy, converting vacant land to vibrant greenspace and creating jobs for under-employed and unemployed people. We believe these interconnected efforts to green Detroit are critical for both the city’s ecological health and its economic recovery.
Before the mid-20th century, Detroit was honored as a “City of Trees,” but industrial progress, Dutch Elm disease and the Emerald Ash borer have since struck their blows to the city. Green infrastructure programs have the potential to transform these marks of urban blight and turn Detroit back into the green oasis we know it can be.
American Forests envisions a Detroit whose neighborhoods are teeming with healthy street trees, verdant parks, vacant lots transformed into centers of community revitalization and a skilled local workforce to manage it all.
As the recent Detroit Land Bank home sale attests, well-maintained urban forests yield many benefits, including a greater desire to invest in a city like Detroit. Healthy public trees create community appeal and a sense of vibrancy that encourages healthier communities.
*March 2, 2003 issue