The Real Deal New York

Zuccotti moves on to new, 2,700-acre privately owned public space

May 03, 2012 01:30PM

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John Zuccotti and Duke Farms

Brookfield Chairman John Zuccotti, whose namesake park in Lower Manhattan brought privately owned public spaces to the national consciousness through the Occupy Wall Street protests, will soon oversee one of the largest such spaces in the country. The Wall Street Journal reported that the 2,740-acre Duke Farms in Hillsborough, N.J. will open to the public May 19.

The property was owned and kept mostly private since 1925 by Doris Duke, the daughter of tobacco magnate and Duke University founder James Duke. Doris died in 1992 but requested in her will that the property be used to protect endangered species. It was overseen by her $2 billion Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which is chaired by Zuccotti.

“It’s a rare resource,” he said. “It represents a time when New Jersey was an agricultural state.”

After decades of debate, including some within the foundation who wanted to sell the real estate to fund operations, the park is being reopened to the public.

Four times the size of Disneyland, the publicly accessible area will be open six days a week. There are no wardens or trash cans and dogs and music are prohibited. The park will attempt to promote the state’s native plant life: as part of a $50 million renovation the Duke foundation removed invasive species, replaced the manicured lawn with a wild meadow and let nature take over. [WSJ]

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