In 2016, a house in Bristol, England was sold for an additional $219,000 than anticipated. And there was one simple reason: it had been tagged by Banksy (who is from Bristol, so his art is all over the city). This example is extreme, obviously, given that Banksy is an international celebrity (houses with his art typically double in price), but overall does data indicate that street art increases property values?
The answer is yes.
In the study, “Quantifying the link between art and property prices in urban neighbourhoods” by researchers at the University of Warwick, it was found that neighborhoods in London that contained the presence of “art photographs” on social media sites also produce higher gains in property prices. These results aren’t surprising as graffiti has become mainstream in the past decade and as cities become more inhabited by young creatives (read: millennials). Today in Bushwick, Brooklyn, for example, a place well-known for its street art, tour companies are popping up to show tourists around the street-art littered neighborhood.
Yet the war between building developers and street artists continues. In New York, when the building in Long Island City, Queens displaying the legendary graffiti Mecca, 5 Pointz, was sold and eventually demolished—thus destroying the many pieces of art on the side of the building—it ended up in litigation. The owner of the property, Jerry Wolkoff, was recently found guilty of violating the artists’ rights, and may have to pay them damages.
In Austin, the Historic Landmark Commission recently unanimously voted to allow the destruction of the HOPE Outdoor Gallery, to allow room for development in the real estate hotspot, Clarksville.
Something that the recent study at the University of Warwick does not measure for, because researchers only looked at property values in one city, London, is that it seems like a major factor in the evaluation of graffiti’s ability to add value to properties is the market in which it resides, most importantly, the sociocultural atmosphere of the city. In looking at several lists for the “best cities for street art,” all of them are major international hubs: Hong Kong, Melbourne, Lisbon, Paris, London, Buenos Aires, Rabat, etc, large market places where terms like “gritty” are attractive to young creatives, and where talented artists naturally flock. Will this vibe spread though, to smaller market, suburbanized cities like Charlotte, Orlando, and Phoenix? Or will their biases remain that graffiti is simply “ugly vandalism”?
By: David Plick