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Pretty Vacant: Figuring Out Unused Property & Empty Buildings

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Why does New York City have 492 million square feet of residentially-zoned vacant land? Okay, so three-quarters off it is in Queens and Staten Island, but there at least 505 empty lots and 1,723 vacant buildings in Manhattan too. Gotham Gazette digs deep into the issue and comes up with a long, long list of reasons from tax policy (vacant land above 110th St. is taxed at a lower rate than empty land below it, for instance) to the lingering after effects of things like the loss of manufacturing. For the policy-oriented, the story has a long list of ways to speed development of the properties including putting special fees on empty lots, creating a "land value tax" system to tax land the same way whether it's vacant or has condos, upzoning, more affordable housing subsidies and the like. First, apparently, the city has to figure out for sure exactly how much vacant land there is and how many empty buildings there are.
· Filling New York's 'Vacancies' [Gotham Gazette]

[Photo courtesy of threecee/flickr]