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URBAN DESIGN International

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 270–284 | Cite as

The evolution of privately owned public spaces in New York City

  • Stephan SchmidtEmail author
  • Jeremy Nemeth
  • Erik Botsford
Original Article

Abstract

New York City has actively engaged the private sector in providing publicly accessible spaces through the use of density bonuses and other mechanisms since 1961. In this article, we examine how the changing regulatory environment, promulgated by zoning reforms of the mid-1970s that advocated for increased amenity creation, has impacted the use, design and management of privately owned public space (POPS). We examine 123 POPS – 47 constructed before the mid-1970s reforms, 76 built after the reforms – using an index to measure levels of control or openness in publicly accessible space. We find that compared with pre-reform spaces, post-reform spaces encourage use through the introduction of design features and signage, but discourage use by decreasing accessibility of the space and increasing the amount of subjective rules and regulations. We also find that the reforms had no significant impact on use or sociability. Our findings can help guide planners and policymakers in New York City and elsewhere to understand how they can not only encourage better privately owned spaces, but perhaps even mandate them.

Keywords

privatization public space New York City zoning 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Partial funding for this research was provided by the University of Colorado's Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of City and Regional PlanningCornell UniversityIthaca
  2. 2.Department of Planning and DesignCollege of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado Denver, CB 126DenverUSA
  3. 3.Department of City PlanningNew YorkUSA

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