Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Effects of Urban Greenways on the Geography of Office Sectors and Employment Density in Seoul, Korea

Myungjun Jang1

Chang-Deok Kang2

1 Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Daegu University, Kyungsan, Korea

2 Department of Urban Planning and Real Estate, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea

Creativity is a core value of the contemporary urban economy. Thus, the creative class in such diverse fields as science and engineering, architecture and design, education, the arts, and music and entertainment is the main driver of new ideas and technologies, and is the vehicle for urban economic prosperity. It is logical that city leaders should prioritize policies that solicit and retain the creative class in particular urban settings. We postulate that amenities are influential in attracting highly skilled and creative workers. Therefore, we hypothesize that the presence of an urban greenway influences the location decisions of businesses, because workers prefer to be in a clean and neat environment.
We test whether Seoul’s urban greenway attracts and retains office sectors. In order to define office sectors, we integrate the typical office sector categories with Florida’s creative class concept after a critical review of related literature. Next, we isolate the effects of the greenway on the spatial distribution of office sectors and on employment density by reviewing background theories and empirical research. Here, we utilize multilevel modeling to fit the data structure, discuss the main findings, and provide our conclusions and policy implications.
Our multilevel models confirm that Seoul’s urban greenway tends to attract and retain firms in office sectors within a kilometer, while the freeway provides a favorable infrastructure for the geography of service industries. In addition, employment density increased within wide bands surrounding the urban greenway, in contrast to the freeway, which only had a similar effect within narrow bands.
This study shows that the urban greenway is a favorable factor for the location choice for the advanced and general office sectors, while the previous freeway infrastructure offered mobility benefits for the services category. The presence of public amenities has influenced the knowledge-based sectors’ pooling near the CGC corridor. Businesses are more likely to locate in close proximity to the CGC corridor in order to attract better workers. In addition, the co-location of retail shops and restaurants near the corridor has attracted office sectors that tend to rely on aspects of the urbanization economy, such as social networking and the exchange of knowledge. By contrast, the freeway was important for businesses in the services sector because customers relied on access to the transportation network.
This study raises questions concerning constructed amenities in an age of climate change. These questions should be addressed by further research. Many city leaders invest public finance in designing and building amenities to convert auto-oriented urban settings into people- and environment-oriented sites. Further and more detailed evaluation of similar projects would provide better references for constructed amenities. We believe that the spatiotemporal frame of this study could provide a cornerstone for identifying local variables that generate the spatial differences affecting business location decisions and employment density.

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