Since 2014, when Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, more than 200 city-owned lots have been sold to developers for the low, low price of one dollar, according to 596 Acres, a nonprofit organization which advocates for the transformation of vacant lots into community green spaces and spaces for civic engagement.
Recently, the group created a new online advocacy tool, One Dollar Lots, a map of all city properties sold for a buck since De Blasio’s election. 596 Acres’ director of advocacy and partnerships, Stephanie J. Alvarado, says the group was not surprised by its findings, which show that “public land is being privatized for profit everywhere.”
The map differentiated between properties that were sold to non-profit developers, for-profit developers, and for-profit/non-profit groups across the five boroughs, as well as sites that are still pending sale.
A quick glance makes visually clear that the majority of dollar lots are in the outer boroughs—most prominently in the Bronx and in eastern Brooklyn—and a closer click of the individual dots reveals detailed information about the lots. This information includes not just the district and address but also housing restrictions and community district income, with links out to the deed and regulatory agreement.
596 Acres describes the map as “a place for organizers and residents to get information about pending sales that may disrupt their communities,” noting that 41 lots are still pending final sale. The information for the map was gathered by following the trail of Disposition Notices—required to be posted by NYC following the sale of any public land for $1—in the City Records Database, as well through ACRIS, where each deed is posted, and occasionally EDC board meeting minutes.
These lots are vacant, “due to decades of institutionally racist land use policies,” the organization asserts. “Fast forward to 2014, and the city is selling them without input from the people who have long dealt with the real life impact of abandoned land in their lives.”
To further its mission, 596 Acres plans on doing teach-ins at local dollar stores, which will involve “bring[ing] printed versions of the dollar lots maps to the stores and talk to folks who shop there about the $1 lot sales happening in the city,” according to Alvarado.
To her, the represents “a call for advocacy for folks to protect public assets in their communities from privatization and profit.”
- One Dollar Lots [Official]