A Sixth Borough

New online map reveals wealth of underused land in NYC

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New map reveals wealth of underused land in NYC. Seen here: the abandoned New York Architectural Terra Cotta Co. (Wally Gobetz / Flickr)
New map reveals wealth of underused land in NYC. Seen here: the abandoned New York Architectural Terra Cotta Co. (Wally Gobetz / Flickr)

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) has debuted an interactive mapping tool that uses public information to display thousands of city-owned and -leased parcels. Viewed as a whole, the maps reveal a hidden geography of underutilized assets that comprise a land area the size of Brooklyn.

The MAS Public Assets: City‐Owned and Leased Properties (Public Assets) report subdivides 14,000 properties (43,000 acres) citywide by key land use issues: infrastructure, landmarks, the environment, rezonings, and population. Remarkably, the city classifies an area roughly double the size of Central Park as having “no current use.” The full report can be accessed here.

Public Assets screenshot. (Courtesy MAS)

Public Assets screenshot. (Courtesy MAS)

“City-owned means citizen-owned; New Yorkers deserve to know that we collectively carry the cost, but also potential profit, on land holdings as large as Brooklyn,” said Gina Pollara, president of MAS, in a statement. “These findings raise serious questions about whether our city’s available property is being appropriately leveraged for civic benefit. True equity in the city’s planning and land use decisions can only be achieved through an informed and engaged public.”

64 percent of the properties are within the 100-year floodplain, and 247 are state targets of environmental remediation. Consequently, MAS is asking the city to implement flood-protection measures for the properties, take care of the landmarks, and make better use of its assets in low-income, low-density, rezoned areas, and areas eligible for rezoning.

Using information from the New York City: MapPLUTOTM V15.1. and City Owned and Leased Properties 2014 (COLP dataset), MAS charted agency control; property for lease or sale; zoning regulations and development potential; and current uses of the city’s land (subdivided into current use and underutilized). MapPLUTOTM has information on land use and at a tax lot level, while the COLP dataset draws from the Integrated Property Information System (IPIS), a real estate database run by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). More information on the maps can be found here.

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