A new report commissioned by Greater St. Louis, Inc. finds that the Brickline Greenway — an urban greenway infrastructure project led by Great Rivers Greenway — will drive hundreds of millions of dollars in economic growth in the St. Louis metro, an impact that “far exceeds the initial investment.” Development of the Brickline Greenway will also result in numerous other social and economic benefits — including environmental, health, and safety improvements — for the region.

“Brickline Greenway is a transformative project that will drive investment, promote economic growth, and advance a number of positive social impacts across the metro,” said Jason Hall, Greater St. Louis, Inc. CEO. “The Brickline will create new jobs during its construction, increase property values and local business activity along its route, and reduce emissions across the region. And it will bring people together and open new pathways for connection. The Brickline Greenway is urban infrastructure at its finest.”

The Brickline Greenway

The Brickline Greenway is a bold vision to connect people and some of St. Louis’ most treasured places, creating inspiring experiences, and equitable opportunities for growth. This greenway — a series of paved, accessible pathways where community members can safely connect, commute, exercise, and explore — will connect Forest Park, Gateway Arch National Park, Fairground Park, Tower Grove Park, 14 city neighborhoods, and hundreds of destinations in between.

“We’ve heard from the community that people want more opportunities for shared prosperity –- this report shows that Brickline Greenway will be a catalyst to make that happen in many different ways,” said Susan Trautman, CEO of Great Rivers Greenway. “With our new equity + economic impact work, we can think beyond the greenway to ensure that current neighbors and businesses benefit directly from Brickline Greenway, while bringing vibrancy and economic growth to the city overall.”

Key Findings of the Report

The report — conducted by Ernst & Young LLP on behalf of Greater St. Louis, Inc. and Great Rivers Greenway — examined the economic and social impacts of 12.6 miles of the Brickline Greenway’s new biking and walking paths that would connect 14 St. Louis neighborhoods. It estimated the economic impact of the project — factoring in metrics such as construction spending and increased local business spending — as well as its social impacts.

The report notes that “the Brickline Greenway will encourage a healthier lifestyle and better connect people to the region’s extraordinary parks, amenities, and communities. The Brickline is more than walking or biking paths; it plays an important role in connecting people and places in a car-centric city.”

Among the key impacts cited in the report, titled “Economic and social impacts of developing the Brickline Greenway,” are:

  • $462 million in economic benefit from trail construction, operations, & maintenance. This includes direct construction expenditures and their spillover impacts through spending on local goods and services and spending resulting from the labor income generated by the initial activity that ripples through the metro (induced impact). The report finds that the Brickline Greenway is expected to support $462 million in gross output, which includes $178 million in labor income. That figure far exceeds the planned design and construction of the project, which is estimated to cost $245 million — comprised of $230 million in design and construction cost and another $15 million for ongoing maintenance over a five-year period (2024-2029). The increased economic activity would also result in total tax revenues of $53 million across the federal ($37m), state ($8m), and local ($8m) levels.
  • Increased property values. The Brickline Greenway is expected to result in increased property values for homeowners. Properties within 1/4 mile of the trail are associated with a value increase of 5% to 10%, an increase of up to $126 million in the market value of residential properties within the trail buffer zone
  • Commercial development. The report also examined potential commercial investment within the 1/4-mile buffer zone, researching similar greenway projects in Dallas, Atlanta, New York City, and other metros and finding that such development has driven the attraction of residential and commercial investment along the route.
  • Transportation and road safety. The report finds that the Brickline Greenway will have a significant impact on travel times, the potential to improve safety, and would provide users with more transportation choices while reducing vehicle dependency. Estimated annual impacts include up to 10 million active transportation trips, a decline in vehicle miles traveled of up to 12 million, and up to $800,000 in costs savings due to increases in road safety.
  • Local business spending. Overall retail spending impact related to the trail is estimated to contribute up to $82 million to the economy and support up to 906 jobs per year.
  • Environmental impacts. As travel shifts from cars on roads to biking and walking trips along the Brickline Greenway, the region will see environmental benefits that include reduced emissions, increased tree planting, and increased park and open space acreage. This is equivalent to reducing as many as 1,146 fewer cars per year on our streets.
  • Health. The Brickline Greenway will lead to up to $4 million in avoided health care costs due to increased physical activity along its paths.

“The Brickline Greenway is more than just a series of trails — it represents a pathway to the St. Louis we are working toward and the connections to our city’s most treasured resources,” said Laura Ellenhorn, Principal and Head of Community Impact at Edward Jones, which helped fund the project. “This transformative project will unite core neighborhoods across our community through beautiful, vibrant, and safe pathways, enhancing access to jobs, education, and recreation. Its benefits will be felt for generations to come, and we are proud to support its development.”

“For Everyone to Thrive”

Originally called the Chouteau Greenway, it was renamed in spring 2020 to the Brickline Greenway through a community-led process with more than 1,000 name ideas submitted. The project’s mission statement explains, “This greenway will transform St. Louis by connecting people and our City’s most treasured places, creating inspiring experiences and equitable opportunities for growth.” The project’s goals include enabling equitable economic opportunities for everyone to thrive — a key goal of the STL 2030 Jobs Plan and its focus on inclusive economic growth.

Based on the principles of engagement, equity, collaboration, opportunity, and sustainability, key outcomes of the project include civic well-being, connectivity, economic growth, environmental leadership, and talent attraction.

Restoring the Urban Core

The Brickline Greenway advances another of the key strategies of the STL 2030 Jobs Plan: restoring the urban core.

“As a former resident of the areas that will be adjacent to the proposed path, I can’t wait to use my experience with entrepreneurship, government, and economic/community development along the Brickline Greenway to help people thrive,” said T. Christopher Peoples, new Equity and Economic Impact Director for Great Rivers Greenway. This position is partially funded by and in partnership with St. Louis Development Corporation.

Research of other large greenway infrastructure projects across the country shows these investments are a catalyst for change in their surrounding areas. Peer projects like Atlanta Beltline, Washington, D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge Park Project, New York City’s High Line, and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail have proactive efforts to ensure those changes are thoughtful, benefitting current residents and business owners as well as attracting new people.

Read the full report.