Banking on air rights: Nonprofits could get $600M from pool

Ex-real estate exec wants churches, universities to band together to deal with developers
October 18, 2013 08:33AM

A group is looking to create an air rights “bank,” which will serve non-profits looking to sell air rights in Manhattan — a proposal it says will generate $600 million for such owners.

Iconplans – formed by real estate executive Michael Lipstein and former grocery store executive Lawrence Daitch – is looking to band together 180 nonprofit owners and enable them to sell air rights to a common bank, from which the rights could be sold to developers at prices north of $300 per square foot, the Wall Street Journal reported. The plan has the support of owners such as Fordham University and the Episcopal Diocese of New York as well as the influential Real Estate Board of New York, according to the newspaper.

“It’s money from heaven for both the churches and the city,” Lipstein told the Journal. Iconplans would manage the transactions in exchange for a 10 percent commission, according to Lipstein.

Religious institutions such as St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Central Synagogue have been lobbying to cash in on their air rights in Midtown East in the wake of the city’s rezoning proposal for that area, as The Real Deal reported. [WSJ]  – Hiten Samtani