Vacant Lot Sales

The City of Rochester has over 3000 vacant lots throughout the city. While some are on hold for development projects, many are available for use and/or purchase. Vacant Lots can be used for Community Gardens, Temporary License agreements, purchase for development, and purchase to combine with an adjacent property.  Please Read the Vacant Lot Handbook for more information. 

Click Here for information on use for Garden Permits.
Click Here for information for Temporary License Agreements.  

Purchase for Development. 
Vacant Lots are available throughout the city. If you do not own an adjacent lot, any request to purchase must be for a qualified development purpose. If you wish to purchase a lot for development, you must identify a lot and inquire if it is available by contacting the Real Estate Department at 585-428-6951, or looking on the City Owned Real Estate Map. We will determine a price for the lot based on its features (may require an appraisal). If the lot is available, we may require an open RFP (Request for Proposal) process which opens the purchase to competitive bidders.  Click here for the Development Proposal. An internal committee will review all proposals, and any sale must be approved by City Council. The application requires cost estimates, Purchaser information form, financials to support purchase price and development costs etc. Note, the intended development should meet current zoning codes. You can confer with zoning prior to submitting a proposal by coming into City Hall at 30 Church St Room 121B and asking at the permit counter.  If your proposal includes a parking lot or new structure, site plan review can also be consulted prior to submitting a proposal at 121B in City Hall. 

Purchase to combine with your privately owned lot

If you own an improved residential lot that is adjacent (sharing a property line) with a city owned vacant lot, you may be able to purchase that lot. Please check the City Owned Real Estate Map to see if the property is available for sale first.   There are two scenarios for city owned land purchases. They are purchase of "Buildable" lots, and "Unbuildable" lots. The City will do an analysis of the site and make that determination. 

  • Buildable Sites. If the City determines the site is a buildable site, we will provide you with a purchase price, in-lieu tax amount, and County recording fee. Once you make this purchase, the City will begin the process of combining this lot with your adjacent property. You cannot owe back taxes or have code violations on any property you own in the City. Otherwise, that will delay the combination.  
  • Unbuildable Sites. If the City determines based on internal analysis that the site is considered "Unbuildable" and you own the adjacent property, we allow you to purchase the lot for $1 plus County recording fees (currently $310). Again, you must keep your taxes paid in order for the City to begin the process of combining your new lot with your current property.  

    If you wish to purchase an adjacent buildable or unbuildable lot, please call 585-428-6951 to start the inquiry process,  come in to Room 121B in City Hall at 30 Church St and ask for Real Estate, or Download and fill out this form and mail to City of Rochester, Division of Real Estate, Room 125-B, 30 Church St, Rochester, NY 14614.  *Please note that we must offer any qualified adjacent owner of the lot the opportunity to purchase half of the lot. If they do not respond, you will be offered the full lot. If they do respond, you will be offered half of the lot. 



  • Advance payment is required with signed contracts or proposals. If your proposal is not accepted or at anytime you are disqualified from the purchase, we will refund your deposit. All deposit funds must be Certified Checks, Cash or Money Orders. No personal checks are accepted. 
  • If the purchaser is a tax-exempt organization, the organization must waive their tax exemption on the property purchased from the City for 5 years. 
  • All land sales are subject to approval by both the Director of Real Estate and the Rochester City Council 
  • Once a proposal or purchase offer and funds are received it can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months for buyer to get site control.