NYC is mulling a major air rights reform

Community groups criticize process as opaque

TRD New York /
Oct.October 14, 2016 09:43 AM

The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering a significant change in how property owners can trade air rights, but details remain unclear.

The Department of City Planning recently sent out a survey to community organizations and land use attorneys to get a sense of the changes they would like to see. On Sept. 30, city officials hosted a meeting to discuss some of the proposals and attendees told Crain’s that the de Blasio administration plans to release proposals soon.

A spokesperson for the planning department told Crain’s that the discussions build on a 2015 conference called “Trading High in the Sky.” At the time, planning chair Carl Weisbrod said the city wants to “begin a period of analysis and stakeholder engagement and start to reconsider our current policy and mechanisms for air rights.”

Exact plans remain unclear, but the city could seek changes to the way air rights are traded between private parties. The practice is popular among developers looking to build skyscrapers, but some local advocates have criticize it as being too opaque.

The city could also seek changes in the way landmarked buildings sell air rights. Currently these properties can only sell air rights to neighboring sites, limiting their options.

The Planning Department has also proposed reforms to how air rights could be sold in a rezoned Midtown East and are considering . The department is also looking to increase a levy the city assess on deals in which developers buy air rights from theaters in the Times Square area.

The are currently tens of millions of square feet of unused air rights in the city, according to Crain’s. A New York Post analysis found that the average price per square foot for commercial air rights rose 8 percent in 2015 to $278. Air rights for condos, however, fell from $368 a square foot in 2014 to $322 a square foot last year.  [Crain’s]Konrad Putzier

Related Articles

206 West 17th Street, 116 7th Avenue, and Extell Development’s Gary Barnett (Credit: Google Maps)

What rich people in NYC will pay to keep their view: TRD analysis

350 Park

Vornado, Rudin mull 1,450-foot tower in Midtown East

Suri Kasirer

WATCH: Suri Kasirer on the influence of her father’s Holocaust stories and lobbying hard for the Vanderbilt Corridor and Cornell Tech

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Ingersoll Houses at 120 Navy Walk in Brooklyn (Credit: Google Maps and Getty Images)

These are the developers looking to buy air rights from NYCHA

JPMorgan is redesigning 270 Park after pushback over public space

RXR joining TF Cornerstone, MSD Capital on $3B Grand Hyatt redevelopment

Rockrose paves the way for Hudson Yards rental tower with $20M air rights deal

City to revoke permits for Extell’s Kazakh-backed tower at 50 West 66th Street