Getting Serious About Curb Appeal Newsracks and Other Eyesores

Many boards and managers make extravagant efforts to spruce-up the frontages of their buildings with costly landscaping, graffiti removal, and entrance renovations — but it’s an uphill battle. As many a harried manager or put-out shareholder will tell you, there are plenty of co-op and condo buildings in the city that always seem to be stuck looking tawdry and down-at-heel because of the proliferation of sidewalk clutter.

And “sidewalk clutter” can be almost anything. On some blocks, it’s the accoutrements of low-cost marketing and so-called street furniture that are the problem: street vendor tables, club flyers scattered across the sidewalk, and a growing tide of plastic and metal newsracks competing for space with payphone kiosks and overflowing garbage cans.

Having the front of your building obscured by trash or other unsightly sidewalk detritus may just seem like an aesthetic annoyance, but the truth is that even in this era of bidding wars and sky-high selling prices, a crummy-looking frontage can impact the value of a building. Not only that, but mounds of clutter and poorly maintained newsracks may even pose a safety threat to residents.

The Anti-Mess Movement

Sidewalk clutter is made up of more than just trash — and it’s more than just ugly, though that’s the main complaint most people have with the subject comes up. In addition to being unsightly, sidewalk clutter can also pose safety risks.  

To address both mounting aesthetic concerns as well as safety considerations, a group of concerned New Yorkers assembled at The Municipal Art Society (MAS) in March to learn how cities like Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco have successfully tackled their own clutter-related issues.

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