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Posted In: Environment

Study: JRPS Has Huge Economic Impact on Businesses, Property Values

Andy Thompson

April 8, 2017 9:09am

A study conducted by researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and released by Friends of the James River Park finds the James River Park System has a large positive economic impact on the City of Richmond. The study is the first of its kind to measure the economic impact of the park system, the most-visited attraction in the Richmond region.

The James River Park, like the Manchester Wall shown here, is a huge economic driver for the city of Richmond. Credit: Phil Riggan

“The findings of the economic impact study emphasize the importance of maintaining the James River Park System at a high level,” said Nancy Fowler, President of Friends of the James River Park. “We strongly encourage members of City Council to appropriate additional funds to properly staff, operate, and maintain the park system in the FY18 budget.”

The study is a first step in assessing the full economic impact of the James River Park System on the City of Richmond. Using available data, Virginia Commonwealth University researchers investigated the park system’s impact on residential property values, visitor spending potential, business revenue, and employee wages. Researchers used citizen scientists to survey targeted businesses to explore what the loss of the park system would mean to business revenue.

Based on validated visitation counts and accepted Virginia-based visitor spending quotients, the James River Park System has potential to generate $33,582,801 per year in tourism. The park system has a positive impact on residential property values. In particular, single-family properties in the City of Richmond see a $6.79 increase in total assessed property value for every foot they are closer to the park. And given the James River Park System’s FY17 budget of $557,337, every budget dollar is associated with $60.26 in visitor spending.

Richmond’s 550-acre James River Park System extends from Huguenot Flatwater to Ancarrow’s Landing and is composed of fourteen distinct areas. It encompasses the Falls of the James and features rocks, rapids, meadows, and forests. Electronic counters measured 1,404,903 visits to the James River Park System in 2016.

Visit the Friends of the James Park website at to access the full report.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?