It’s time to think about gardening–a seasonal rite that’s something of a challenge for most city-dwellers. Living Lots NYC is a clearinghouse of information that New Yorkers can use to turn vacant land into community spaces. Begun as a pilot project that ran from 2011 to 2015, which led to the to the official transformation of 32 vacant lots, Living Lots NYC was created by community organization 596 Acres as a database that New Yorkers can use to find, unlock, and protect the shared resource of the city’s vacant lots. According to the map, at this particular moment, there are 877 sites throughout 626 acres of vacant public land, 18 sites on 8 acres of private land opportunities, and 559 sites on 211 acres to which people have access.
Image via onedollarlots.org
If you live in New York City, and you’re hoping to own–or trying to buy–property, you might not want to hear about vacant lots being given away for $1. But this is really a thing: An interesting little map courtesy of the One Dollar Lots project by 596 acres shows us where in New York City, according to Untapped Cities, city-owned lots of land have been sold to developers for $1 since the current mayor took office in January 2014. These $1 deals often happen as token transactions as part of a development incentive for prospective buyers, who will eventually need to prove they possess plans and the means to carry out their vision.
New York City is home to some of the world’s most spectacular parks, and though we may pride ourselves on these well-tended green spaces, more than a handful of neighborhoods don’t see more than a single tree for every 60-foot stretch of concrete. Enter 596 Acres, a grassroots land access nonprofit looking to change all of this with the Urban Reviewer. Developed with the help of a team of volunteer researchers, urban planners and designers, this new online tool allows anyone to view the staggering amount of publicly-owned lots that once had an urban renewal plan in the pipeline but were scrapped due to bureaucracy. By mapping out all of the vacant spaces across the city, 596 hopes that we as a community can take a top-down approach to turning these urban blights into public gardens, play lots, and spaces where people can “co-create.”