Privately Owned Public Spaces

Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) are spaces zoned for public use and controlled by the property’s owner. These public spaces offer various opportunities for residents and visitors of a city to relax, meet, interact, eat or do other recreational activities.

The first resolution on POPS was accepted in New York City in the 1960s. According to this resolution, if developers were to provide public amenities within their building, they are rewarded in floor area bonus. Such public amenities include galleries, theatres, public walkways, arcades, food halls etc.

Since 1960 more than 550 Privately Owned Public Spaces were created in NYC only, and most of them are located in Manhattan. POPS can be located both inside and outside of the building and can be different in size and shape. (NYC City Planning)

An example of a POPS in NYC is the Ford Foundation Atrium. This inside atrium is surrounded by green trees and bushes, and gives visitors the feeling of walking in an urban forest. Many New Yorkers go there to have their lunch and escape from the city noise for a while.

Another example in NYC is IBM plaza which is located at 590 Madison Avenue, a relaxing and peaceful place that also offers free wi-fi connection. Being surrounded by greenery and flying birds while staying in the center of the city, is definitely worth a visit. (Sary, 2013)

Alterations to any existing privately owned public amenities, that have already received floor area bonus, may or may not be allowed, depending on the community or special purpose district they are located in. The alterations may be as-of-right or may be discretionary, depending City Planning Commission review.

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