What Is a Paper Street?

Understanding Paper Streets

When it comes to urban planning, there are many factors to consider, including the creation and maintenance of roads and streets. One term that often comes up in this context is "paper streets." But what exactly is a paper street, and how does it impact property values and legal considerations? In this article, we’ll explore the definition of paper streets, how they’re created, and what property owners need to know about them.

Definition of Paper Streets

A paper street is a street or road that appears on maps and official documents, but does not actually exist on the ground. In other words, it’s a street that has been planned or designated, but has never been built or developed. These streets are often created as part of a larger urban planning effort, but for various reasons, they may never be constructed.

How Paper Streets Are Created

Paper streets can be created for a variety of reasons. In some cases, they are part of a larger plan for a new development or subdivision. The streets are mapped out and designated as part of the development, but for one reason or another, the development never takes place. In other cases, paper streets are created as part of a city’s long-term planning efforts. The streets are designated in anticipation of future growth or development, but may not be built for many years, if ever.

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The Impact of Paper Streets on Property Values

One of the most significant impacts of paper streets is on property values. In some cases, property owners may find that a paper street runs through their land, effectively dividing their property in two. This can make it difficult to sell the property or develop it in the future. On the other hand, if a paper street is eventually developed, it can increase the value of nearby properties.

Legal Considerations for Paper Streets

From a legal standpoint, paper streets can be a complex issue. In some cases, property owners may be required to maintain the paper street, even though it doesn’t actually exist. Additionally, if a paper street runs through a property, it can impact the owner’s right to use and develop the land. It’s important for property owners to understand the legal implications of paper streets and to work with an experienced real estate attorney if necessary.

How to Deal with a Paper Street on Your Property

If you own property that is affected by a paper street, there are several steps you can take. First, you can try to negotiate with the city or other authorities to have the paper street removed or relocated. Alternatively, you may be able to purchase the paper street from the city or other authorities. It’s important to work with an experienced real estate agent or attorney to navigate these options.

Examples of Paper Streets in Major Cities

Paper streets can be found in many major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. In New York, for example, there are hundreds of paper streets that were created as part of the city’s original grid plan in the early 19th century. Many of these streets were never developed, but remain on the official map to this day.

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Conclusion: The Future of Paper Streets in Urban Planning

As cities continue to grow and evolve, the issue of paper streets will become increasingly important. While paper streets can be a source of frustration for property owners, they can also be an important tool for urban planners. By designating streets and roads in advance, cities can better prepare for future growth and development. However, it’s important for property owners to be aware of the impact of paper streets on their land and to work with experienced professionals to navigate any legal or financial issues that may arise.

In conclusion, paper streets are an important part of urban planning, but they can also be a source of frustration for property owners. By understanding the definition of paper streets, how they’re created, and the legal and financial implications, property owners can better navigate this complex issue. As cities continue to grow and evolve, it’s likely that the issue of paper streets will become increasingly important, and it’s important for property owners to be prepared.


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