Parks and Open Space Strategy

HR&A is at the leading edge of a movement to design, operate, program and fund the development of new urban open space.


HR&A has more than three decades of experience contributing to the planning and development of urban open space amenities. Our parks practice views parks both as public amenities and as catalysts of economic development. Our approach enables communities to use open space to create value through strategic connections with adjacent real estate and civic assets; to quantify that value through robust, data-driven economic models; and, where appropriate, to channel that value towards open space revitalization and maintenance.



HR&A provides three core services to ensure vibrant and self-sustaining public parks



Financing Open Space Development

HR&A works closely with public and private clients, urban design professionals, civic stakeholders, and community representatives to build a financial model for open space costs, provide advice on value for money considerations throughout the planning process, assess the opportunities and challenges of alternative park stewardship models, and examine a range of potential income sources for inclusion within a funding plan. Having planned for and implemented public space operating models in cities across the country and around the world – from better leveraging the resources of parks departments, to forming not-for-profit parks conservancies, to structuring Public Improvement Districts and developing earned income sources and retention structures – HR&A understands the best practices for and relative strengths and weaknesses of public space stewardship models and can tailor to location and mission.



Ensuring Sustainable Operations and Maintenance for Parks

It is essential for the health of urban parks to plan for the ongoing operations and maintenance of new and existing open space. Our approach to producing a sustainable Operations and Maintenance plan takes into account three perspectives: organizational vision, park activation, and existing financing. We partner with our clients to:


  • Document the current stewardship model;
  • Evaluate ongoing capital projects and associated costs;
  • Estimate operating costs and revenue strategy; and
  • Identify potential structures that could provide ongoing and reliable revenues for park operations.


Leveraging Programming to Activate Parks and Increase Value

We understand that the activation of new public spaces must leverage programming for a layered set of users, including local residents and workers in downtown, citywide constituents, and visitors from throughout the region, country, and across the world. HR&A collaborates with urban design professionals and park management to evaluate the feasibility of and integrate a range of programming elements into new and existing open spaces.