Extell, Art Students League finalize $31M air rights deal

Sale follows last month’s dismissal of Art Students League lawsuit seeking to block the sale

From left: Gary Barnett, plans for 225 West 57th Street and the exterior of the building
From left: Gary Barnett, plans for 225 West 57th Street and the exterior of the building

UPDATED, 5:40 p.m., August 6: Gary Barnett’s Extell Development completed the acquisition of air and cantilever rights at 211 West 57th Street from the Art Students League of New York, paving the way for the firm’s planned 88-story Nordstrom Tower.

The $31.8 million sale, which hit property records Wednesday, followed last month’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by more than 100 members of the Art Students League against the nonprofit, seeking to block the sale on the grounds that the purchase price was too low.

Extell is building a mixed-use, cantilevered tower at 225 West 57th Street, which is next door to the League’s landmarked building at 215 West 57th Street. In the suit, members of the League who opposed the deal claimed that the agreed-upon price of $31.8 million – which included development rights for 6,000 square feet and the right to build a 28-foot by 88-foot cantilever over the League’s building – was too low. Instead, they suggested the rights could be worth $400 million.

At the time, a spokesman for Extell noted that the plan passed by a margin of six-to-one in a vote by the League, which has more than 1,560 members.

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Extell’s Nordstrom Tower will house a Nordstrom store and condos, as The Real Deal has previously reported. The Seattle-based retailer reportedly paid $102.5 million for the site of its planned Midtown store, which will occupy the first seven floors of the building.

“The transfer of air rights and rights to build a cantilever over the northwest corner of our building is complete,” Michael Volpe, a partner at Venable LLC and an attorney representing the League, told The Real Deal. In 2005, Extell paid $25 million for the bulk of the air rights, about 136,096 square feet.

Excavation at the site is already underway, and the project could become the world’s tallest residential building at 1,775 feet, including a spire that was recently revealed.