Iconic Lever could see $75M from Midtown East air rights

August 02, 2013 11:00AM

Owners of the modernist icon Lever House on Park Avenue stand to make $75 million if they sell the building’s air rights under the revised Midtown East rezoning proposal, the New York Times reported.

The Bloomberg administration has proposed changes to the measure that would allow landmarks such as the 21-story Lever House, owned by the Korein family, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral to transfer their unused air rights to a slew of development sites that had been outside the range first specified in the proposal.

The city is justifying the change by saying that the money would contribute toward the upkeep of these historic buildings. But unlike landmarked institutions such as St. Patrick’s and Central Synagogue – which have been lobbying the city to relax its restrictions, as The Real Deal reported – the owners of Lever House will not plug the money back into the building, but instead pocket it.

Critics of the revised proposal, such as State Senator Brad Hoylman, point to the case of Lever House as an example of the ill-thought-out nature of the plan.

“This exception undermines the intention of the air rights transfers for historic properties,” Hoylman told the Times. “The beneficiaries in this case don’t have an obligation to invest the proceeds in the preservation of the landmark.” [NYT] –  Hiten Samtani