During the last 50 years, New York City dwellers have been acquiring small plots of public space, often times not even realizing it. Every plaza or garden area located in front of an overly tall building is a privately-owned public space (POPS) and in part, belongs to New York City citizens in a unique kind of way.
Skyscraper developers cut a deal with New York City officials that ensured certain restrictions were relaxed regarding the height of their buildings. As long as developers converted a portion of their building’s lot into privately-owned public space, they were allowed to construct taller buildings with added square footage. There are over 500 POPS scattered across New York City.
Newly beta-launched website APOPS (Advocates for Privately-Owned Public Spaces) intends to introduce the entire population of New York City to each one of these POPS. Plots are scattered across Midtown, Lower Manhattan, the Upper East and West Sides and even span into Brooklyn and Long Island.
Site users are given the option to search for all POPS or only those that have certain specifications, such as artwork, restrooms, food service or other various amenities.
If interested in viewing a specific space, all users must do is select that certain pin on the map, which presents them with a slew of data, including photographs, space details, site plans, and required amenities that space must have. Viewers are encouraged to get involved by leaving tips and pieces of advice on each POPS.
According to APOPS, New York has traded 20 million square feet of zoning concessions for 80 acres of privately-owned public space. To put these numbers into perspective, 20 million square feet is equivalent to seven Empire State Buildings while 80 acres equals approximately 1/10 of Central Park.
While APOPS does intend to inform site guests of various privately owned public spaces, its main goal is to inspire the possibilities opened up by 500+ of these vibrant urban spaces. APOPS hopes that visitors will gain enthusiasm and spread awareness, so more will be done to keep these spaces looking clean and inviting.