New York City alone has over 14,000 acres in prime rooftop real estate; it’s no surprise rooftop farms are mushrooming all over the US. Chicago has 509 roofs which are now partially or fully covered with vegetation.

Technology in Urban Agriculture Could Increase Real Estate Values
Technology in Urban Agriculture Could Increase Real Estate Values

Contributed by | Gavop

The vertical farming market is estimated to be more than $6 billion per year. Further, advances in modern agriculture technologies are making it possible to grow crops in high-rises, urban warehouses, and rooftops in prime real estate markets like New York City and Chicago. Farming within controlled environments means that food producers no longer need arable soil, perfect weather or even sunlight. While there are many urban farming designs and technologies in play, Gavop looked at some of the more notable urban farming practices including vertical farming, as well as their impact on real estate to places in proximity of such developments.

New York City alone has over 14,000 acres in prime rooftop real estate; it’s no surprise rooftop farms are mushrooming all over the US. Chicago has 509 roofs which are now partially or fully covered with vegetation. Brooklyn Grange operates a farm of 108,000 square feet, on two rooftops in New York City, making it one of the largest urban rooftop farms in the country. Innovations in vertical farming are helping consumers grow their own produce even in cities where arable land isn't readily available. It is now possible to grow plants without soil by using a water solvent. New York’s Gotham Green, the first company to design a commercial hydroponic urban farm in the country, and Square Roots use hydroponics. Brooklyn’s Edenworks and Oko Farms use aquaponics, a system in which a soil-free plant bed is suspended over a body of water containing nutrients necessary for plant growth.

AeroFarms in New Jersey has patented their aeroponic technology, which provides great conditions for healthy plants to thrive, taking indoor vertical farming to a new level of precision and productivity with minimal environmental impact and virtually zero risk.

Along with having social, economic and environmental benefits for cities, urban farming is also thought to have an impact on real estate values in these areas.  A study in The Bronx in New York City found that within five years of opening a small community garden, property values increased by 9.4% in the nearest surrounding neighborhoods (Voicu & Been 2008). In a December 2018 study, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) noted that 73% of U.S. residents say access to fresh and healthy food is a top priority when deciding where to live. Even real estate developers and architects are jumping on this bandwagon. The inclusion of a farm is seen as an asset that makes the community more sellable.

There's a growing shift in what consumers are looking for when shopping for real estate. Homeowners have started to favor rooftop gardens over more conventional community amenities like golf courses. Stack House Apartments in South Lake Union offers a winter garden greenhouse room and is maintained by Colin McCrate and a team of farmers from Seattle Urban Farm Company. In downtown Seattle, The Martin, a luxury apartment, runs a rooftop garden for its residents who prefer to tend to it themselves. While operating costs of vertical farms and rooftop gardens might still require time before they can be cost-effective to everybody, there are a lot of companies backing the trend. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who heads Vulcan Real Estate has included rooftop community gardens in many of its recent projects. Another notable investor in urban farming is Amazon's, Jeff Bezos. He raised $200 million for Plenty, an indoor-farming enterprise based in San Francisco.

Evolving lifestyle choices and a growing need for sustainable food have led to communities embracing urban agriculture. To further augment this, recent legislation has also addressed property appraisals and taxes in some of these cities. According to a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute, more vacant parcels and derelict buildings across the country are returning to productive use as urban farms and other food-related enterprises.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AgriTechTomorrow

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