clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Sidewalk Structures Are Big Moneymakers for the City

New, 3 comments

About $60 million is collected annually.

Did you know that the owner of 9 West 57th Street has to pay the city $12,000 a year to have the big "9" out on the sidewalk? Or that the Grand Hyatt New York next to Grand Central Terminal has to pay nearly $300,000 a year for its mezzanine-level restaurant that juts out over the sidewalk? They’re just two examples of how the city rakes in big bucks for items on or over sidewalks. The New York Times says it adds up to $60 million annually. Another example: the clock outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, which costs $300 a year (though nobody can confirm the bill has been paid).

Still another example is Columbia University’s Amsterdam Avenue pedestrian overpass at 116th Street. Price tag: $80,967 this year.

The Times says two city agencies collect the fees for "signs, ornamental lampposts, stand-alone clocks, benches, bollards, planters, permanent trash receptacles, [and] delivery ramps." Restaurants with sidewalk seating and street vendors of edible items and flowers also pay fees, collected by the Department of Consumer Affairs. The fees for everything else are collected by the Transportation Department.

The fact that property owners have to pay fees for such items, which are, in theory, removable, might be news to you, but not actually surprising. However, the fact that other items are also subject to fees might surprise you.

Under-the-sidewalk snow-melting apparatus also costs property owners. For a townhouse on East 64th Street, the bill will be $1,548. For One 57, on Billionaires’ Row, the bill will be $15,110.

Even more surprising is that the fees cover townhouse stoops. That’s right. This is so concerning that a group of Brooklyn homeowners have filed suit, not because of the fee so much as the fear that they could lose the legal right to the entrance to their own homes.

New York’s Sidewalks, Unsung Moneymakers [NYT]