This hole in the ground is the length of three city blocks. It is a carpet of sand, weeds and prairie grass sloping down to the river, interrupted only by a low ridge of broken bedrock. Around it, a black chain-link fence catches the plastic cups, paper and other debris that roll along like tumbleweeds.
But this 6.4-acre parcel is not sitting in the middle of a decaying rust-belt city. It is nestled in the middle of Manhattan, between 38th and 41st Streets on First Avenue, overlooking the East River, amid a residential real estate boom.
Yet it has sat fallow for six years, long enough for young trees to rise at the edges of the property.