The plaza at 325 Fifth Avenue is just one example of a privately owned public space, commonly known as a POPS, that has not been maintained according to the developer’s agreement with the city. These agreements allow developers to build larger towers and earn more revenue in exchange for providing public spaces.
The lack of compliance with the law has been a problem for years. The city’s inspectors have issued violations to half of the 392 buildings with such spaces since 2011, according to a Department of Buildings dataset.
The standard penalty for a violation is $5,000, which is a fraction of the value of the bonus space developers receive from the agreements. For example, the owners of 325 Fifth Avenue have been assessed a total of $54,000 in penalties since 2015. By contrast, the bonus floor area that the developers gained could be worth approximately $80 million if used for residential space, based on 2022 sales prices provided by Jonathan J. Miller, a New York City real estate appraiser.