Property lots merge frequently. Knowing this history means access to important information related to the subducted properties. ACRIS (Automated City Registration Information System) has no mechanism to flag merged lots. Documents registered with ACRIS might give you some indication of a lot merger, but finding a hint here or there is no substitute for knowing the detailed history. Thankfully the DoITT NYC Map and the DOF’s (Department of Finance) historical Tax Maps are here to help. Let’s use the following narrative to find the property records for three lots that merged into one.
Start with the DoITT NYC Map
Saturday I walked west on 42nd Road, away from Jackson Avenue and the construction at Two and Three Gotham Center, when I came across a peculiar residential building under construction at 42-20 27th Street in Long Island City (above). I took a few photos and moved further west until I came to Crescent Street, where I snapped a few more pictures of the same project. In short, the project stretched from 27th Street to Crescent street along 42nd Road. To know more about the project, I searched for “42-20 42 road, Long Island City” on DoITT’s NYC Map.
What a strange sight, the DoITT NYC Map seemed to indicate there were two separate lots. Further still, if I click on the lot to the left, the address displays 42-22 27th Street, while the lot to the right displays an address of 42-20 27th Street. Both addresses are identified with the same BBL (Borough Block and Lot) number, 4|423|29, whereas “4” is the Borough of Queens, “423” is the block, and “29” represents the lot.
ACRIS and the Tax Map
As seen below, a search of the two addresses (42-22 and 42-20) on ACRIS is unhelpful in our quest to find more information since a query for either address provides the same exact information.
ACRIS really doesn’t understand addresses, it understands Tax Map (BBL) language only. Thus ACRIS considers these two formerly distinct properties the same (since they are). But with that in mind, ACRIS will only give you the history of the prevailing lot. If your analysis ends here, you are denying yourself the historical record of the lots that were subsumed by lot #29. We just need to look at the historical tax maps from the Department of Finance to see just how many lots #29 gobbled up. To do so, click “View Tax Map” highlighted above in red.
DOF Tax Maps
A new window will pop up asking if you want to leave ACRIS, click “Yes”. The DOF’s Tax Map portal page will open and highlight lot #29. This is the current tax map and reflects the legal boundaries for lot #29 (see image below). The historical data is viewable two ways, selecting “Library of Tax Maps” or “History of Tax Map Changes”. The “Library of Tax Maps” is a fine place to start and summons both current and historical maps of the block and lots. (Selecting the “Historical…” link provides the same information, just textually).
After clicking the “Library…” link, the DOF site fetches 4 different tax maps. The top map, effective “2017/11/14” is the most current, with the three beneath the historical maps. Select any one; here we selected the map valid from 12/7/2008 to 6/29/2015.
A hah! Using either the “Library of Tax Maps” or “History…” option tells us the history we need: the previous existence of lots #1 and #28. They are now lost to all of eternity. But they are not lost to history. Armed with this information, you can go back into ACRIS and conduct a new property record search for lots #1 and #28, which will be unique and distinct from lot #29. Now you will have a complete history of the property, and whatever hidden gems that might be hidden in the property records of the absorbed properties.