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Underused Lots in New York City 

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Publication Date: November 2009

Publisher(s): Furman Center for Real Estate

Author(s): Vicki Been; Josiah Madar; Simon McDonnell

Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Topic: Social conditions (Urban conditions)

Keywords: land use; Community and Economic Development

Type: Working Paper

Abstract:

Despite a robust real estate market for most of this decade, researchers and policymakers have observed that many areas of New York City have remained built out well below their zoning capacity. This study aims to contribute to our understanding of urban redevelopment by compiling and analyzing a large database of underdeveloped lots in the City. We identify about 200,000 such lots as of 2003 that were built out at less than 50% of their zoning capacity, representing about a quarter of all residentially zoned lots. Of these, about 8% were redeveloped during the subsequent four years. Our preliminary analysis reveals that underdeveloped lots are primarily made up of low density 1-4 family houses and are disproportionately located in poor and minority neighborhoods. We plan to use this analysis as the foundation for further analysis to assess whether market failures and regulatory and other barriers impede desirable development in mature cities.