Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Real Estate Value of Privately Owned Public Spaces

The $21 million sidewalk: Putting a price tag on privately owned public spaces
by Yolanne Almanzar and Michael Keller posted on The New York World on April 5, 2012 (reprinted with permission)

The strip of pavement outside 180 Water Street, home to the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA), may not look like much, but it’s for sale. The building’s owner, Melohn Properties, recently put the tower on the market for $180 million. If the owners get their asking price, this drab stretch of concrete, plus a loading area on the side of the building, will be worth nearly $21 million to them. That’s because the sidewalk is a privately owned public space, like hundreds of others around Manhattan — including Zuccotti Park, home base of Occupy Wall Street.

In exchange for this sliver of sidewalk, public records show, the developers of 180 Water Street received permission to build nearly 47,000 square feet of office space that would not have otherwise been permitted by zoning. Multiply each of those square feet by the current asking price — which we calculate at about $455 per square foot — and the value of privately owned public spaces to property owners comes into sharp focus.

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