The Shelby Farms Greenline will make it easier to get from Midtown Memphis to Cordova on a bike, but the real impact could be on property values.
Greater Memphis Greenline Inc., a nonprofit leading the charge for the 13-mile trail, is touting its economic advantage to property owners and business groups.
Shelby County funded the $7 million land purchase from CSX Corp. using a variety of private money, foundation grants and government grants. It is negotiating to buy land from CSX for the second phase, which will extend to Cordova. All property is part of an abandoned railroad line.
Greater Memphis Greenline president Bob Schreiber and Shelby County land bank manager Bill Goss calculated the entire 13-mile greenline could add $155 million in property value to a half-mile strip along its length.
Organizations such as the Trust for Public Land and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy say values increase 50% for properties within a quarter mile of it. Therefore, the Greater Memphis Greenline took the appraised value of a half-mile along the entire trail, $418.3 million, and applied an average increase of 37.5% to get a future value of $573.4 million.
Using current and projected city and county taxes on the property, the Greenline could generate $2.2 million in additional annual taxes.
“It pays for itself in increased tax revenues,” Schreiber says.
Shelby Farms Conservancy maintains the Shelby Farms Greenline. It will work with Greater Memphis Greenline to develop neighborhood programs and develop amenities such as history signs and seating areas.
This isn’t the first greenline in Memphis: the Vollintine-Evergreen neighborhood near Rhodes College has a 1.7-mile trail running through it.
Liz Daggett, an assistant professor of art at Rhodes College, rents a duplex close to the Vollintine-Evergreen Greenline.
“I personally enjoy it and walk my dog on it every day,” she says. “Being next to the greenline was a huge factor in choosing where I rent.”
Daggett is a board member of the Vollintine-Evergreen Community Association and serves on its greenline committee. The neighborhood association maintains the greenline and works with the police to make sure it’s safe.
“I know when they first started the greenline, it was the same where people said it would be a thieves high-way,” she says. “They could have been justifiable fears, but having a community organization which looks after it and involved law enforcement is key.”
Amenities like the greenline are what Memphis as a city needs to be providing, according to Les Binkley, director of sustainable development at Boyle Investment Co.
“I feel people in our town are starved for things like this,” he says.
Binkley thinks the greenline could increase property values, but isn’t sure of the amount.
“I think it really depends on how it is initially executed and then continually managed,” he says. “If we build it and, for example, can’t keep it extremely clean and safe, then there is a chance that it could have an adverse effect.”
Greater Memphis Greenline is working on a number of other projects, including the development of a two-mile trail from McLean Boulevard to Second Street. The organization is partnering with the Trust for Public Land to buy the rail line, which is currently owned by Union Pacific.
It’s also planning trail projects which would connect the Shelby Farms Greenline to Overton Park.