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Working Paper No. 10-08

Untangling the Value of Open Space: Adjacent vs. Neighborhood Area
Neil Metz
November 2010


This paper examines the effect of proximity to different types of open space on a home’s sale price using data from the Denver-Boulder metropolitan area. Proximity measures are varied to examine the differing spatial values of open space. Types of open space are varied by protection and level of access. Open space adjacency (within 30 feet) for any type has a positive and significant impact on home sale price, and adjacency to protected land is valued three times more than unprotected land. An additional acre of protected land at ¼ mile is ten times more valuable than at 1 mile, indicating a rapid decline in value over distance greater than ¼ mile. Irrespective of the spatial measure, protected/yes access is valued highest, followed closely by protected/no access, with unprotected/no access coming in a distant third. Protected lands with or without access perform quite similarly in all spatial measures except one. An additional acre of protected land with access at 1 mile is one and a half times more valuable than protected land without access. This result suggests for policy makers that in low-density areas, where the difference between the number of homes ¼ and 1 mile from open space is quite small, a private conservation easement can provide a similar value to home owners as a public park. On the other hand, in high-density areas, a public park may be preferred to a private conservation easement.