Midtown East churches, Central Synagogue look to profit from rezoning

Three East Side religious institutions just outside the city’s proposed boundaries for the Midtown East rezoning plan to petition the Bloomberg administration to permit them to sell air rights to developers looking to build to the eventual new limits, the New York Post reported.

The rezoning is slated to affect the area bounded by Lexington and Fifth avenues and East 39th and East 57th streets, and call for developers to buy additional air rights from the city, and within a smaller “Grand Central Subdistrict” buy from owners of landmarked properties that are underbuilt. As previously reported, Argent Ventures controls nearly all of those air rights through its ownership of the Grand Central terminal.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Bartholomew’s Church and Central Synagogue are all located within one block of the district. Combined they own nearly 2 million square feet in air rights, that could be worth nearly $1 billion.

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Leaders from those institutions will state their case to the city at a public meeting on Thursday.

“We will advocate that the city will [consider] our request to have the wider transferability which now applies to Grand Central Terminal also apply to other landmarks [in the district],” David Brown, the archdiocese director of real estate, told the Post.

The religious institutions say they need the revenue to properly maintain the landmarks to the extent the law requires. [Post] — Adam Fusfeld