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When Millennium Park opened in 2004, with its open-air galleries and interactive public art, Chicago evolved from a once-industrial wasteland to a real-estate hot spot. The “Millennium Park factor” fueled $1.4 billion in residential development over a decade, writes’s Kelly Pedro, and a similar pattern can be observed in cities across the U.S.

Around the country, public art has become a hot commodity that is being used to spark revitalization in blighted neighborhoods and turn vacant land into places where people want to live, work, and play. Builders are increasingly incorporating art both into these emerging neighborhoods and into their own developments, as they compete to bring in both discerning buyers and tenants willing to pay top dollar.

At the Monroe Street Market in Washington, D.C., which offers an art walk and ground-level art studios, median home list prices increased from $474,000 at opening to $598,400 in 2017, just three years later. The downside to art-driven revitalization, of course, is gentrification to the extent that creatives can’t afford to live there.

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