Rail-Trails Gentrification Study

Principal Investigator(s):

Greg Lindsey, Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

This study assesses gentrification related to green infrastructure projects. The research team uses case-control, pre-post analyses to assess the magnitude and scope of gentrification adjacent to the Metropolitan Branch Trail in Washington, DC, Shelby Farms Greenline in Memphis, TN, and Lafitte Greenway in New Orleans, LA. The treatment groups are the neighborhoods contiguous to each trail; the control groups are neighborhoods contiguous to the treatment groups but further from each trail.

The treatment and control groups comprise different spatial areas and reflect different distances-to-trail based on the respective local built environment and urban form. Within each treatment and control area, the researchers identify gentrifiable and non-gentrifiable neighborhoods (i.e., already higher income) and assess the magnitude of change in nine indicators of gentrification following the three-year period after the opening of each trail.

The researchers complement these analyses with analyses of changes in rents using data from the Co-Star data base for multifamily housing. Their analyses provide evidence of gentrification but also show changes in indicators are heterogeneous both within and between treatment and control groups for each trail. The changes in indicators also are heterogeneous across trails.

Research results validate concerns about gentrification but also confirm the previous findings that the effects of greenways and trails may be highly localized and that green gentrification is not inevitable.

Project details:

  • Project number: 2020062
  • Start date: 02/2020
  • Project status: Completed
  • Research area: Planning and Economy