Cities all over the world are trying to replicate the runaway success of parks such as New York City’s High Line and Chicago’s Millennium Park. These state-of-the-art parks are credited with pumping up real estate values and drawing hordes of tourists.
But unlike the great public parks built in previous eras, the new generation of flagship parks is almost completely dependent upon massive private support for its survival. Design decisions and the responsibility for maintenance and operations budgets have been outsourced to quasi-governmental organizations and “Friends” groups. The problem? It’s unclear whether these kinds of public-private partnerships can be financially self-sustaining without completely selling out.