City wants a bigger cut of air rights sales in Theater District

REBNY opposes the proposal
February 07, 2017 08:52AM

The Theater District (Credit: Randy Lemoine via Flickr)

The city’s efforts to impose new rules over air rights in the Theater District has caused a larger debate to flare up over how much compensation landmarks should expect to get from these deals.

The city is seeking to take 20 percent of every air rights sale in the district and to establish a floor price of $346 per square foot, Crain’s reported. That’s a big bump from the current flat fee, which is $17.60 per square foot.

The Real Estate Board of New York is not happy about the proposal.

“We believe this minimum increase is onerous, excessive and unfair,” Michael Slattery, REBNY senior vice president, said at a City Council meeting this month.

Meanwhile, Broadway theater owners have been relatively quiet about the proposal. The city has so far collected $9.6 million through the Theater Subdistrict Fund, and recently spent $2.2 million of air rights proceeds on diversity initiatives in the theater industry, Crain’s reported. Between 2006 and 2016, Broadway theater owners sold $165 million in air rights, according to a report released by REBNY. Under the proposed rules, the city would’ve received more than $20 million in those sales.

A similar dispute came up in the proposed rezoning of Midtown East. In that plan, the city also wants a 20 percent cut of air rights proceeds for a public improvement fund. The proposed floor price for the air rights in the district is $393 per square foot ($78.60 of which is kept by the city). [Crain’s]Kathryn Brenzel