How Green Space Can Spur Economic Development

Two national, award-winning urban parks in the city of Houston have been credited by city leaders for generating economic development in their surrounding vicinities. Page designed the architecture of both Buffalo Bayou Park and Discovery Green. Recently, the president and park director for Discovery Green explained how the project has impacted downtown Houston.

When Discovery Green was first conceived, the 12-acre site was dominated by asphalt parking lots. Today, it attracts 1.5 million people annually. Three hotels and two office buildings have opened since the park's  inception in 2008, and these projects have been successful. "It shows the ability green space has to impact residential, commercial and retail development," said Discovery Green President Barry Mandel. 

He estimates over $1.2B of new development that happened as a result of the park on both its eastern and western borders, explaining, "It is about creating a sense of place for the west side of downtown. In the beginning, there was only a convention center and a convention hotel, Hilton Americas. The opening of the park and the programming resulted in a place for recreation. 

"We ended up with a new residential tower built across the street from us. All of a sudden, there is a neighborhood and there is a sense of place and destination because of the park. Now there are three more hotels, Embassy Suites, Marriott Marquis and Homewood Suites/Hampton Inn; two new office buildings, Hess Tower and The Partnership Tower; and renovations at the convention center."

Mandel explained Discovery Green also creates more amenities for the conventioneers. While the park has a restaurant inside its boundaries in addition to a casual grill, nearby restaurants subsequently opened and he saw a lot more conventioneers staying in the neighborhood at night as opposed to having to be bused out to restaurants across the city.

About four years ago, a corporate tower across the street from Discovery Green sold for the highest per SF dollar amount of any building in the city up to that point. Mandel stated, "We take complete credit for that. It shows the ability green space has to impact residential, commercial and retail development." 

The park's thoughtful site and architectural designs have earned it a reputation as a crown jewel in downtown Houston and more than ten awards. It was also named one of America's Great Places in 2019. 

To learn more about Discovery Green’s role in downtown Houston’s economic development in the related Bisnow article by Tierra Smith, click here.

To learn more about Discovery Green, click here.

To learn more about Page’s Civic market sector, click here.

To learn more about Page’s planning practice, click here.