Not every apartment dweller desires to be in the heart of a city. Many want a more bucolic setting, with plenty of accessible green space. If you own an apartment complex nestled on park-like grounds as opposed to a concrete jungle, you might have considered creating walking trails on your property to attract and retain nature-loving tenants. But how much value would this project add to your rental property?
What are walking trails?
Walking trails are a great way for people to enjoy nature. Fitness buffs especially love to take their workouts outdoors -- a plus in the wake of so many gyms that closed due to COVID.
Like their name suggests, walking trails are designated paths for pedestrians. Some walking trails are paved with asphalt, some have wooden slats like a seaside boardwalk, and others are simply well-marked paths filled in with small gravel. Wider asphalt trails may allow for bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, and scooters, though these are often prohibited on narrower or unpaved paths.
Walking trails are often found in public parks for area residents to enjoy. But for the apartment complex owner with a large amount of property that can be converted into usable space, it could be a project worth pursuing.
How much does it cost to build a walking trail?
The cost of taking on this project will vary depending on a number of factors:
- The size of the property.
- The current landscaping and whether anything needs to be cleared.
- The slope of the land and whether grading is necessary.
- The permits (if any) needed to proceed with trail construction.
- The hardscaping materials used to pave the trails.
According to HomeAdvisor (NASDAQ: ANGI), a gravel pathway measuring 4 x 12 feet with a 3-inch depth will cost around $20. Remember: A path of this thickness will only be suitable for foot traffic. If you expect many pedestrians or want to create a multiuse path instead, you'll have to upgrade to asphalt.
Home Advisor says building an asphalt walkway or sidewalk ranges from $28 to $52 per linear foot, with 48 inches being the average width. Expect multiuse trails to go up in price, as these need to be much wider. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) suggest a minimum of 10 feet wide for trails, with 12 to 14 feet being more optimal for heavier pedestrian and cyclist traffic.
There will be other expenses incurred, such as signage and garbage bins. Depending on the length of your trail, it's a good idea to include benches for tenants to rest.
Liability for property owners
Landlords must ensure their walking trails are free of hazards so pedestrians can avoid injury. Clear signage must be in place to mark any areas that should be avoided or are under construction.
Landlord laws vary by state, so you'll want to ensure your insurance policy covers any injuries sustained by tenants who use the walking trails. Just as you must ensure sidewalks and stairs are well-maintained to avoid tenant slips and falls in your building, make sure your walking trails offer safe access as well.
What value can walking trails add to your apartment complex?
For apartment dwellers who don't have a balcony or other private access to fresh air, landscaped grounds are an important amenity. A University of Washington study found that when people had access to green spaces in their neighborhood, they felt more connected to their community and are more socially active.
For landlords, this could result in more long-term tenants, so making the most of the surrounding greenspace might pay off in happier, stable tenants.
The bottom line
If you're a property owner who prefers maintenance-free grounds as opposed to green space, you're likely not eager to consider walking trails. But if you enjoy the outdoors and see your park-like property as an opportunity to attract and retain tenants, taking on this sizable project could be well worth the investment.