Soon after the 2009 opening of the first phase of New York City’s High Line park, other cities around the globe began copying its model—repurposing aging infrastructure as public space. In just the last few months, a High Line-like park opened in Seoul, organizers announced plans for a highway park in Akron, and even Staten Islanders have decided to get in on the game. But with a great park comes great responsibility. Property values increased. And some neighborhood residents were pushed out by the change.
“When we opened, we realized the local [New York City Housing Authority] community wasn’t coming to the park, and the three main reasons were: They felt it wasn’t built for them, they didn’t see people like them there, and they didn’t like the programming,” High Line Executive Director Robert Hammond tells Co.Design.
To circulate information and best practices among newer park-reuse projects, Hammond has launched the High Line Network, a sort of club comprising (at present) 19 park projects, with an online hub sharing resources and articles. The aim is propose and discuss ideas for a growing a new crop of High Line-like projects, including Philadelphia’s Rail Park, Toronto’s Bentway, and Washington, D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge.
The issues tackled by the network include everything from how to navigate the park planning process and setting up a robust financing and maintenance plan to making sure the park is built for people in its surrounding neighborhood and provides them with economic benefits.