The Real Deal New York

The city makes $60M a year off sidewalks

Sidewalks, it turns out, are a great real estate deal

March 05, 2016 12:00PM


The clock in front of Trump Tower, which is supposed to cost the Trump Organization $300 a year

The city’s sidewalks are many things. They are crowded, dirty and too often covered with scaffolding. But they are also cash cows for the city.

The large No. 9 that sits in front of the office tower at 9 West 57th Street costs the building owner $12,000 a year. The mezzanine-level restaurant, which juts out over the sidewalk, costs the Grand Hyatt New York adjoining Grand Central Terminal $300,000 a year. And the nearly 16-foot decorative clock that stands in front of Trump Tower should cost the Trump Organization $300 a year – however, neither the city nor the Trump Organization could confirm that the bill has been paid.

According to the New York Times, all this sidewalk stuff earns the city roughly $60 million a year. And that number is growing.

Revenue collected from restaurants with outdoor seating has more than doubled in the past decade to about $14 million. The city also makes roughly $400,000 a year from sidewalk vendors of fruit, vegetables and flowers.

Even Columbia University isn’t safe from sky-high sidewalk fees. A pedestrian overpass at the university, which crosses Amsterdam Avenue near 116th Street, will cost $80,967 this year.

“New York’s sidewalks are the soul of our city and some of the world’s most desirable real estate,” Polly Trottenberg, the city’s transportation commissioner, told the Times. [NYT]Christopher Cameron