The Commercial Property Endowment Model for Delivering Park and Recreation Services


  • John L. Crompton


Commercial Property Endowment, social enterprises, service delivery, leisure trusts, operating foundations


The Commercial Property Endowment Model, emanating from the genre known as social enterprises, has been adopted in the cities of Milton Keynes and Peterborough in the U.K. In both cases, nonprofit organizations were established to operate park systems independent of the cities. The non-profits were given commercial properties which were incomeearning assets to manage as well as parks. The rationale for this was that lease fees generated from these properties would provide a sustainable income stream that could be used to fund their mission of operating, maintaining, renovating, and enhancing the park system. These two cases are compared with a similar model at Mission Bay Park in San Diego whose operations also are financed by commercial property lease fees. In the U.S., the Commercial Property Endowment Model would be classified as an operating foundation. However, in the U.S., operating foundation endowments typically have been created by philanthropic action or from self-generated revenues, rather than commercial property leases. The paper discusses the effectiveness and characteristics of several U.S. operating foundations, and compares their cultures with those of public agencies. Circumstances and contexts in which the Commercial Property Endowment Model may be viable, together with the trade-offs involved with its implementation, are suggested.





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