The Real Deal New York

Air rights transfers should undergo public review: OPINION

"One57 is Exhibit A in what we should be able to prevent."
December 23, 2013 11:31AM

City agencies and community groups should have a greater say in air rights transfers, and the city should place a cap on the amount of air rights that can be bought without a public review, according to the architecture critic for the New York Times.

“Developers will raise hell, but the move would not stop sky-high buildings from going up,” critic Michael Kimmelman wrote in an opinion piece published in the newspaper. “Buildings striving for such height would just need to make a case for themselves aesthetically and otherwise.”

Currently, air rights acquisitions that are carried out through a zoning lot merger are not subject to public scrutiny. Kimmelman singled out Extell Development’s One57 as “Exhibit A in what we should be able to prevent.”

Kimmelman also calls for a requirement that developers “give something back” in exchange for permission to buy these air rights, such as affordable housing and contributions to transit improvements. The changes would help preserve the New York skyline and ensure that New Yorkers benefit from these projects, he added. [NYT]  – Hiten Samtani