NEW YORK – Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Marisa Lago applauded the City Council’s recent approval of new zoning rules allowing moveable seating and tables in many of New York City’s older Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS), where they were previously not permitted.
The change means that owners of large open plazas in New York’s dense business and residential districts, many of them built in the 1960s and 1970s, can now provide tables and chairs, making these spaces more inviting to the public.
“New York City’s fantastic public realm just got a boost! Besides adding a charming new logo and clear signage welcoming the public, POPS in New York’s bustling neighborhoods will now offer more opportunities than ever for residents, workers, shoppers and tourists to sit down, enjoy lunch, read a book, gaze at the clouds, or catch up with a friend while enjoying a respite from our busy streets,” said DCP Director Marisa Lago.
In addition to the more permissive seating rules, the Council adopted DCP’s new provisions that require clear signage at all POPS that indicate these spaces are open to the public with information about amenities, hours of information and New York’s new POPS logo. The signage including the new logo, titled “Have a Seat,” must be displayed by property owners to ensure the more than 550 POPS are easily identifiable as open to the public.
POPS are the result of City zoning regulations aimed at ensuring that the densest areas of the city offer outdoor and indoor places that are usable by the public without charge. The POPS program has produced nearly 3.8 million square feet of additional public space in the City – equivalent to roughly 66 football fields or 13 Union Squares.
The city’s 550+ POPS come in many shapes and sizes, located both outdoors and indoors.
While dedicated to public use and enjoyment, POPS are developed, owned and maintained by private property owners at no cost to the City.
This week’s zoning update affects hundreds of POPS which had remained subject to obsolete rules that did not allow seating amenities. Acknowledging the importance of POPS for relaxing, eating and socializing, the new zoning rules mean that moveable tables and chairs can be placed in large plazas and arcades where they had previously not been permitted.
Additionally, beginning next year, the public can expect to see the new logo on signage at POPS across the city. By mid-2022, all POPS will be required to include this public space logo and signage, informing New Yorkers and visitors about hours of access, required amenities such as seating, and to report any complaints to 311.
The new logo depicting playfully-arranged chairs was designed by Emma Reed, a New York-based graphic designer. The logo was one of 607 logo design submissions from nearly 60 countries in an international design competition held last year. The design matches the City’s goal of continuing to promote inviting public spaces with an abundance of amenities, with seating being a priority.
Since 1961, the POPS program allowed developers to build more usable space (also known as floor area) or receive special waivers for a building if they also created plazas or arcades that are open to the public.
The last significant update to POPS rules was in 2007 and 2009, when DCP revised design standards to ensure new and upgraded plazas would be include ample amounts of important amenities such as greenery and improved pedestrian circulation, and be more accessible, visible, comfortable, open and inviting.
- Since 2007, 15 new POPS have been approved and designed in accordance with these new standards.
- In addition, 41 previously existing plazas have been upgraded and dramatically improved in line with the new regulations, of which 26 previously had no required amenities and now contain planting, lighting, signage and other typical POPS amenities we require today, making them much more usable and welcoming.
Department of City Planning
The Department of City Planning (DCP) plans for the strategic growth and development of the City through ground-up planning with communities, the development of land use policies and zoning regulations applicable citywide, and its contribution to the preparation of the City’s 10-year Capital Strategy. DCP promotes housing production and affordability, fosters economic development and coordinated investments in infrastructure and services, and supports resilient, sustainable communities across the five boroughs for a more equitable New York City.
In addition, DCP supports the City Planning Commission in its annual review of approximately 450 land use applications for a variety of discretionary approvals. The Department also assists both government agencies and the public by advising on strategic and capital planning and providing policy analysis, technical assistance and data relating to housing, transportation, community facilities, demography, zoning, urban design, waterfront areas and public open space.