In the 1980s, public entrepreneurship in real estate development evolved as the policy of choice for big cities. Stimulated by the most favorable market conditions in decades and pressed by continually tight budgets and cutbacks in federal funds, city officials seized upon the opportunity to capture benefits from the rising value of land. They did so by reworking existing strategies for the disposition and development of significant publicly owned property. In particular, in place of land sales many chose lease arrangements. This essay discusses how leasing empowered cities to use their position as owners of land assets to shape city development and finance public objectives, and explains why it satisfied a lot of political needs certain entrepreneurial officials grasped.