Privatization and Park Space in the New Urbanism, New Towns, and Conservation Developments

Authors: Mark Bjelland*, Calvin College
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Geography, Landscape
Keywords: privatization, park space, urban geography, New Urbanism, conservation development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Conservation developments and the New Urbanism are alternative forms of residential development that give prominent attention to parks and open space and make bold claims for the social and ecological benefits of their park spaces. At the same time, these forms of development may incorporate wider trends in development practice towards the privatization of park space. Thus, ostensibly progressive styles of development may employ private residential governments to manage privately-owned quasi-public park spaces. This project uses geospatial analysis of land use and ownership, field classification of park spaces, and textual analysis of property covenants to explore the design, ownership, and governance of park spaces. Case studies compare recent New Urban and conservation developments in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan to conventional controls and early- and mid-20th century New Towns. Results suggest that New Urbanist neighborhoods and conservation developments show improvements in the quantity and quality of park spaces. However, these alternative suburban developments also show widespread acceptance of private ownership and control of park spaces, potentially undermining their social and civic benefits.

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