Privately owned public space

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A privately owned public space is a public space that is open to the public, but owned by a private entity, typically a commercial property developer. Conversion of publicly owned public spaces to privately owned public spaces is referred to as the privatization of public space, and is a common result of urban redevelopment.[1]

Beginning roughly in the 1960s, the wholesale privatization of public space (especially in urban centers) has become a fact of western society, and has faced criticism from citizen groups such as the Open Spaces Society. Private-public partnerships have taken significant control of public parks and playgrounds through conservancy groups set up to manage what is considered unmanageable by public agencies. Corporate sponsorship of public leisure areas is ubiquitous, giving open space to the public in exchange for higher air rights. This facilitates the construction of taller buildings with private parks.

In one of the newer U.S. incarnations of the private-public partnership, the business improvement district (BID), private organizations are allowed to tax local businesses and retail establishments so that they might provide special private services such as policing and increased surveillance, trash removal, or street renovation, all of which once fell under the control of public funds.

Privately owned public spaces in New York City were introduced as a formal concept in a 1961 zoning resolution. The city offers zoning concessions to commercial and residential developers in exchange for a variety of spaces accessible and usable for the public.[2] Unlike NYC parks which have a 1 am curfew, many POPS parks are required to be open 24-hours per day. For this reason the Zuccotti Park POPS was selected by the Occupy Wall Street movement during their 2011 protests.[3]


In San Francisco and Seattle they are known as Privately Owned Public Open Spaces (POPOS).[4]


  1. ^ "Privately owned public space: where are they and who owns them?". The Guardian. 11 June 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-01. 
  2. ^ "Privately Owned Public Space". New York City Department of City Planning. Retrieved 2011-11-11. 
  3. ^ LISA W. FODERARO (2011-11-13). "Privately Owned Park, Open to the Public, May Make Its Own Rules". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-09-15. 
  4. ^ "Privately Owned Public Open Spaces (POPOS)". Seattle City Council. Retrieved 2012-09-25. 

See also[edit]