The perceived value of landscaping is largely based on anecdotal evidence that is supported by a few studies that have substantiated economic impact. Case studies provide real-world examples of how landscaping can influence a local economy. A perfect example is the case of West Palm Beach, Fla., revitalization. West Palm Beach has transformed its downtown area from one of deterioration to a vibrant city center relying on landscaping, urban planning and a restructuring of its trafficways. The decline of West Palm Beach was largely based on poor land-use and transportation planning, which focused primarily on mobility of motor vehicles. Crime was rampant, and business occupancy rate was low.

“The heart of the city's downtown is Clematis Street, a 4,500-foot street anchored by a plaza, library, and the waterfront on the east end and a historic train station on the west end … In 1993, the street was a one-way street with only 30 percent of the building space occupied. Property values along the street ranged between $lO and $40 per square foot. Commercial space rented for $6 per square foot. The downtown was perceived as dangerous and undesirable,” according to “Traffic Calming for Crime Reduction & Neighborhood Revitalization,” a paper published on the Institute of Transportation Engineers' Web site written by Ian M. Lockwood, city transportation planner, and Timothy Stillings, senior transportation planner.

“In 1993, the city initiated a traffic calming and streetscaping plan along Clematis Street and the streets around the plaza and library. Clematis Street was converted to a two-way street and the traffic calming measures included narrowing, raised intersections, and lateral shifts. The plaza was rebuilt with pedestrian amenities, an interactive fountain, and event spaces. Soft and colorful materials were used for the project with great attention paid to urban design. In addition, the city financially assisted the restoration of some key historic buildings in the area and the library itself” Lockwood and Stillings report.

“Today, the area is perceived as safe. Children play in the fountain; families feel comfortable downtown. Restaurants are busy and more are opening. There are weekly street parties that attract 3,000 to 5,000 people. Property values along the street have more than doubled, ranging between $50 and $l00 per square foot. Commercial space rents are now $30 per square foot. More than 80% of the building space is now occupied.”


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