There are currently more than 600 stalled construction sites around NYC according to the Department of Buildings, and given the moribund economy, it doesn't look like they'll unstall anytime soon. So in the meantime, why don't we do turn lemons into lemonade, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer wants to know! He's shining a spotlight on the 129 stalled construction sites in Manhattan, and according to his new "Arrested Development" report, 37% of these sites had problems with litter, 60% had fencing that was in disrepair or vandalized, and half of the sites had sidewalk obstructions. 100% of them are butt ugly.
So what's to be done with these hideous eyesores? First of all, Stringer has created a website identifying the location of stalled construction sites, and he's asking New Yorkers to send in photos or other updates about these dumps. He's also pushing for legislation that would permit property owners and government to create temporary public spaces on private property. Stringer envisions turning these bleak symbols of failed ambition into farmers' markets, cafes, and performing arts spaces.
Several stalled construction sites in Manhattan are already being used for other purposes. On East 29th Street, the restaurant Riverpark has created a farm on property where construction was temporarily suspended "due to the unprecedented worldwide financial crisis of recent years." Lentspace on Varick and Canal Street has been temporarily transformed into an exhibition space for artists and an incubator for trees, while Lot on 30, near the Highline Park, has been transformed into an outdoor café and skating rink.
"New York should be encouraging such projects and follow the lead of cities like Seattle, which have passed laws that streamline approvals for temporary uses,” Stringer said in a statement. "Imagine a city where stalled construction sites are not simply inactive, dead vacant lots, but one where they boost the health and vitality of a neighborhood. That’s the kind of sidewalk renaissance we need in New York City." Turning condos into magical urban oases with waterfalls and artist colonies and monorails sounds like a win-win, but you've got to wonder if Stringer, who has mayoral ambitions, could be losing the crucial squatting gutter punk vote.