Economic Development Assessment

Profile of existing conditions

Housing Affordability

Housing is generally considered to be affordable if a household spends less than 30% of its income on housing expenditures. Using data from the 2006-2010 American Community Survey, housing affordability was analyzed for renters, homeowners with a mortgage, and homeowners without a mortgage. For both renters and homeowners with a mortgage, more than 40% of households in census tracts adjacent to Spring Garden are currently spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs.

SOURCE: American Community Survey, 2006-2010, U.S. Census Bureau


The concentration of vacant properties is lowest toward center city and increases to the north. Most of the area surrounding Spring Garden, particularly to the north, has a high density of vacancies.

SOURCE: Econsult, 2010

In 2011, Interface Studio conducted an analysis of street frontage conditions along Spring Garden Street. They catalogued parcels with vacant lots, vacant buildings and parking lots, as well as buildings without active uses facing Spring Garden. All together, they found 49% of street frontage along Spring Garden to be inactive.



Unemployment varies greatly among communities along Spring Garden, ranging from 5.6% up to 39.5%. Highest concentrations of unemployment are in the census tracts north of Spring Garden and east of Broad Street.

U.S. Census Bureau

Median Household Income

Median household income also varies greatly by census tract. Households with the lowest incomes are concentrated in the two census tracts north of Spring Garden and east of Broad Street, while the highest concentrations of income are located to the west, but also north of Spring Garden.

U.S. Census Bureau, 2010

Consumer Expenditures

As share of spending on housing needs changes, the amount of income available for other needs such as food, transportation, and healthcare will also change. The following chart shows consumer expenditures for residents living in the Philadelphia MSA during 2009-2010. Housing costs make up the largest single expenditure for households with transportation and food costs following.

SOURCE: Consumer Expenditure Survey, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 2011

Assault & Robbery

The density of assaults is mostly low along Spring Garden, but increases directly to the north of the street around Broad Street, and increases moving east until about 3rd Street, when it tapers off again. Density of robberies is high along the length of Spring Garden except at its very eastern and western ends.

SOURCE: Cartographic Modeling Lab, University of Pennsylvania, 2007

SOURCE: Cartographic Modeling Lab, University of Pennsylvania, 2007

Density of Businesses

Businesses tend to be clustered south of Spring Garden within Center City Philadelphia. However, there are several smaller concentrations of businesses along Spring Garden and in surrounding areas.Along Spring Garden, businesses are clustered just west of Broad Street, east of Ridge Avenue, and west of I-95.

SOURCE: ArcGIS Business Analyst


Expected changes resulting from proposed Greenway

The proposed Greenway will lead to increased spending along Spring Garden by local users and tourists using the East Coast Greenway. It will also result in an increased demand for commercial and retail space along and near Spring Garden.

  • The national biking industry generates $46.9 billion in money spent on meals, transportation, lodging, gifts and entertainment during bike trips and tours. Bicycle tourism through bicycle infrastructure is an increasingly recognized way to support local businesses (Flusche 2009).
  • Bike users in Maine generate $ 36.3 million a year for the state (“Bicycle Tourism in Maine: Economic Impacts and Marketing Recommendations” 2001)
  • 65% of business owners along Valencia Street in San Francisco that were surveyed a year after the installation of a bike lane thought that it was beneficial to their business (Drennen 2003).
  • People who bike or walk to a business visit more often and spend more than those who drive (Krizek 2006; Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business” 2009 )
  • Users of the Heritage, St. Marks, and Lafayette/Moraga Trails spent an average of $9.21, $11.02, and $3.97 per person per day, respectively, as a result of their trail visits to the Heritage, St. Marks, and Lafayette/Moraga Trails, which resulted in over $1.2million of economic impact each. Additional spending “on durable goods generated an additional $130 to $250 per user annually depending on the trail.” The same study noted that trail users spent the most money on food at restaurants, and that those visitors that stayed at least one night in the area spent the most money (Rails to Trails 1992).
  • Bicycle recreation generates more than $924 million in Wisconsin (Grabow et al 2010)
  • Annual economic impact of bicyclists in the Outer Banks, North Carolina is estimated to be about $60 million (“Pathways to Prosperity” 2004).
  • Cyclists reported spending $150 to $175 per day on the following (listed from greatest to least amounts): accommodations; restaurants, fast food, bars, groceries, beverages and snacks; retail and shopping; recreation and entertainment; bicycle accessories and equipment; and car expenses and fuel (“Pathways to Prosperity” 2004).
  • The Mineral Wells-to-Weatherford Rail-Trail near Dallas generates $2 million annually (“Enhancing America’s Communities” 2002)
  • Each visitor to the Little Miami Scenic Trail in Ohio spends on average $13.54 per visit on food, beverage and transportation to the trail. They also spend an estimated $277 each year on clothing, equipment and accessories during these trips. (“Trail Users Study, Little Miami Scenic Trail” 1999.)
  • Public trails, such as greenways, can increase economic activity, especially when combined with a decrease in vehicular traffic. (“Economic Impacts of Protecting Rivers, Trails, and Greenway Corridors”; Litman 1999)
  • Bike lanes increase commercial activity (Flusche 2009; “Bike Lanes, On-Street Parking and Business” 2009; Drennen, 2003).
  • In Lodi, California, increases in neighborhood amenities lead to economic development. “The city credits the pedestrian improvements, as well as economic development incentives, with the 60 new businesses, the drop in the vacancy rate from 18% to 6%, and the 30% increase in downtown sales tax revenues since work was completed in 1997.” (“The Economic Benefits of Walkable Communities” 1999.)

The proposed Greenway will lead an increased demand for housing along and near Spring Garden among both renters and buyers.

  • One study showed that up to 29% of people in single-family homes and 17% of people in townhomes, apartments, and condos chose to move to their home because of proximity to a trail (Macy and Macdonald 1995.)
  • A similar study surveyed residents and found that up to 63.8% of residents had bought their homes after trail construction and that the proximity to the trail had influenced their decision to do so (Greer 2000).
  • Another study found that proximity to (but not adjacency) a trail made a home easier to sell and they sold up to 6% more than other homes in the area (Zarker and Bourey 1987.)
  • “People seek out residences near bike paths, trails, parks, and other natural resource areas.” (Racca 2006)
  • Homebuyers ranked bike lanes 3rd out of 39 attributes used to select a home. (“The Economic and Social Benefits of Off-Road Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities” 1995.)
  • Trails were ranked 2nd among 18 community amenities homeowners look for (“Consumer’s Survey on Smart Choices for Home Buyers” 2002.)

The proposed Greenway will increase property values along and near Spring Garden.

  • Lots adjacent to the Mountain Bay Trail in Wisconsin sold faster and for an average of 9% more than comparable lots that were not next to the trail. (“Recreational Trails, Crime and Property Values: Brown County’s Mountain-Bay Trail and the Proposed Fox River Trail” 1998.)
  • Anecdotal evidence shows that greenways increase property values (West et al 2011).
  • Empirical evidence demonstrates that property values can increase by as much as 20% (Nicholls et al 2005; Crompton 2005).

Increased income and increased spending lead to better physical and mental health, as indicated by stress levels, access to health care, quality of health care and nutrition levels.

  • The association between income level and health status has been well-documented in many studies (Feinstein 1993; Adler et al 1993; Kessler and Cleary 1980). Some studies have demonstrated that the relationship between increased income and increased health benefits is causal (Ettner 1995). For example, there is an association between income level and physical activity, which directly impacts health status (Crespo et al 1999). Health status includes both physical and mental health.
  • Income level is also related to access to health care, quality of health care and nutrition status. Studies have shown that lower income children have less access to care and receive poorer quality care than higher income children (Newacheck et al 1996). Studies have also shown that children from low-income families are more likely to have poorer nutrition and health status than children from higher income families (Casey et al 2001).
  • One way to increase income is to create new businesses and new jobs. Studies show that reduced automobile use along certain corridors, such as greenways, can lead to increased business development and job opportunities in the immediate area. (Miller et al 1999; Litman 1999)

Neighborhood improvements, such as increases in commercial/retail and residential space, have a positive impact on mental and physical health.

  • Studies show that neighborhood amenities lead to a decrease in crime and an increase in feelings of safety (Foster et al 2008; Foster et al 2010; Spelman 1993). Crime rates directly affect physical health, and feelings of safety directly affect mental health and stress levels. Amenities include commercial/retail space and residential space.
  • Studies show that changes in the quality of neighborhood amenities, and specifically the quality of housing, can lead to a change in feelings of isolation, fear of crime, feelings of safety, sense of belonging, involvement in community affairs, and recognition of neighbors (Thompson et al; Northridge et al 2003). Each of these factors impact mental health.
  • Green areas are specifically linked to a decrease in crime (Douglas et al 2007).