NEW YORK (AP) _ Empty space may seem impossible to find on an island crowded with people living in closet-sized apartments that fetch a mint in rent.
But a city official says even Manhattan has space to spread out, and up.
``Contrary to popular belief, there are thousands of properties lying vacant,'' Borough President Scott M. Stringer said Saturday.
His office released an informal real estate survey, conducted by volunteers, showing at least 505 undeveloped lots and another 1,723 that appeared to be vacant.
That's enough space to create nearly 24,000 housing units to meet New York's future population growth, Stringer said.
Half the vacant property found in the survey is privately owned, and much of it is north of 96th Street, a traditional dividing line between poorer neighborhoods on the northern end of the island and the wealthy Upper East and Upper West sides along Central Park.
The average apartment value was $1.14 million late last year in Manhattan, the most expensive of New York's five boroughs.