Rentable Backyard in NYC Gives Suburban Fun to Citydwellers


photo by Bonnie Hulkower

Only in New York, where space is scarce and summer is brief, would one be able to pay to rent a backyard for a few hours. But that is what my friend Ben Pomeroy, of Now or Never radio, did last week. He rented a space called "Timeshare Backyard." Timeshare Backyard is a formerly vacant lot at 145 Ludlow Street in Manhattan's Lower East Side, which for the month of August has been transformed into a suburban style backyard, complete with grass and a white picket fence.The sharing culture has been spreading in NYC, with people sharing everything from cars (Zipcar) to office space (Green Spaces). Timeshare Backyard takes this idea to the next level. The backyard in question is an empty lot on the busy, nightlife block of Ludlow Street. It is a part of lower Manhattan, where many of the buildings began as tenements, few people have private outdoor space, and even fewer have big backyards for hosting. Participation Agency, a group that seeks to "unite brands and investors with creative ventures," had the brilliant idea to rent the 3200 square foot lot from a firm called Ludlow Place Corp. The firm plans to erect an apartment building with apartments and commercial space, but in the meantime is renting the space for $12,000 per month, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Backyard Timeshare has been available for rent since August 11th. Participation Agency, sells it as "Build Your Own Backyard." For $50 an hour one can rent the entire space for yourself and up to 30 friends. But one can also rent activities and add-ons, and that is where the costs start to add up. At Ben's party he had a Slip 'n' Slide ($100) and water balloons. You can also rent a kiddie pool ($200).

The space is definitely in contrast to, and a respite from, the crowds pouring out of the bar scene on this stretch of Ludlow Street. I thought Timeshare Backyard was great for a Wednesday evening happy hour location. I got to squeeze in two hours of summer without even getting on a subway or leaving Manhattan. So I say cheers to "build your own backyard," and echo Participant Agency's call, "Long live summer!" Indeed.

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