The Real Deal New York

High Line property owner seeks zoning change

Unlocking air rights would pave the way for redevelopment next to starchitect projects

March 25, 2015 04:30PM
By Rich Bockmann

Gary Spindler, 249 10th Avenue and Carl Weisbrod

A property owner with several thousand square feet of air rights on the High Line is asking the city to tweak the language in its zoning resolution so that he can use every square inch to redevelop his parking garage next to the Della Valle Bernheimer-designed 245 Tenth.

The request reveals the sometimes unintended consequences of the city’s rezoning efforts, and could have implications for other property owners who find their hands tied.

Park-It Management principal Gary Spindler, whose company owns a five-story parking garage at 249 10th Avenue, has an application before the City Planning Commission that would allow the firm to transfer development rights from a piece of property he owns on a section of the elevated park two blocks south. Under the current zoning regulations, those development rights would be left languishing.

That narrow strip of land stretches underneath the High Line between 22nd and 23rd streets, but because of the language in the zoning resolution that designates how air rights could be transferred, Spindler can only move an amount equal to the property’s commercial floor-to-area ratio of 6.0.

Park-It previously sold some 60,000 square feet of air rights from the site for an undisclosed amount to Douglaston Development for its 370-unit rental tower Ohm on 30th Street, located at the northern end of the High Line.

Changing the resolution to allow Spindler to transfer a figure equal to the property’s residential FAR of 6.2 would free up 8,668 square feet of development rights that would otherwise be landlocked.

Spindler could not be reached for comment.  But a source familiar with the special West Chelsea zoning district said the current language in the resolution is an unintended result of efforts to limit certain property uses in the neighborhood when the city rezoned it back in 2005.

A public meeting on Spindler’s application is scheduled for April 1.

If Spindler gets the green light, he plans to convert the five-story parking garage to residential use, adding another four floors for a total of 37,125 square feet spread across 38 residential units and ground-floor retail.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly identified the building next to 249 10th Avenue. It is 245 Tenth, not HL23.

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