The Municipal Art Society launches a dynamic database for searching city-owned and leased property. On November 21, 2016, the Municipal Art Society of New York (“MAS”) issued a report entitled Public Assets: City-Owned and Leased Properties (Public Assets) which aggregated information on city-owned and leased properties and how they relate to the environment, infrastructure, landmarks, population, and local rezonings. The report was accompanied by the first-ever interactive city map that compiles information for more than 14,000 city-owned and leased properties. The interactive tool categorizes properties into four groups: properties with no current use, with a residential use, with a current use that is not residential, and property used for parks and open space.The stated purpose of the report and the interactive map was to be a “first step in an ongoing process designed to improve our public assets and contribute to a healthier, more dynamic, and inclusive New York City.” MAS found that the 14,000 city-owned and leased properties totaled 43,000 acres—an area the size of Brooklyn. “As we confront the challenges of rising population and density, climate change, infrastructure development, and social equity,” said Gina Pollara, President of MAS, “Public Assets provides a detailed view of city-owned land—a key to understanding the city and achieving its potential.”
The report found that twenty-two percent of city-owned land is classified as underutilized, totaling 1,832 acres. Underutilized is defined as property having no current use. MAS did include city-owned land under water as having no use. The category does, however, include 78 properties that contain nonresidential structures with no use. One such property is the former Rockaway Court House in Queens which is managed by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.
The interactive map also provides information on population and income for the City, census tract information for total population, and median household income from the U.S. Census Bureau. The average population density per census tract in New York City is 84.3 people per acre. The report found that seventy-one percent of city-owned properties are located in census tracts below that average density. Additionally, the median annual income of New York City is $52,737, and about half of city-owned properties are located in census tracts below that median income.
The report also found that sixty-four percent of city-owned properties are located in areas which are at a high risk for flood event now and in the future. Further, 247 city-owned properties are fully or partially designated as New York State environmental remediation sites.
By: Jonathon Sizemore (Jonathon is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2016).