Washington, D.C. – The Red Fields to Green Fields concept of tearing down underused, overleveraged real estate to create urban parks and land banks won support from business leaders and federal parks officials at a June 16 gathering organized by City Parks Alliance in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s philanthropic arm endorsed the concept, saying it helps address “multiple problems with a single strategy.”
“It helps to stabilize your housing market. It helps to improve your green space,” as well as bringing jobs back to the urban core, said Stephen Jordan, senior vice president and executive director of the chamber’s Business Civic Leadership Center.
Beyond its economic benefits, Red Fields to Green Fields (R2G) dovetails with the Obama administration’s emphasis on urban parks, said Will Shafroth, Counselor to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. “We want to be a catalyst for making these kinds of projects happen at the local level,” said Shafroth, who is leading America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
The idea is also garnering attention politically, with U.S. Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-PA) drafting a resolution that will clearly define a “red field” and express a federal commitment to reducing the number of red fields across the country. Bianca Lacey, an aide to the congressman, said Brady is seeking bipartisan input on the resolution.
The remarks came at a day-long session that brought together Wall Street investors, civil engineers, urban parks advocates, real estate professionals and representatives from 11 cities under study by Georgia Tech Research Institute for the real estate initiative. The five communities in the second round—Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Hilton Head—presented data on their markets as well as plans for what they could accomplish with the right investments. Other speakers described the state of the national real estate market and the best strategies for structuring a land deal.
The convergence of business, environmental and political interests makes this the right time to pursue the R2G initiative, said Catherine Nagel, executive director of the City Parks Alliance.
For more information about the project, see www.rftgf.org
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A copy of the full meeting summary may be accessed here.