Mayor May Reconsider Air Rights Policy


Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce changes to the city’s air rights policy, affecting the way how unused development rights are bought and sold. Crain’s New York Business reported that the City Planning Commission has also solicited feedback from land use attorneys and nonprofit organizations on what changes they would like to see regarding development rights.

Any adopted reforms would mean addressing two issues: transactions between private developers and landmarked buildings. For the former, community organizations have called on the city for more transparency by alerting residents when a skyscraper is being constructed. Developers, meanwhile, would like to see the air rights policy to be left as is; this would allow them to buy unused square footage on the same block from the different owners. The planning department is unsure how it would decide, since the agency may have difficulty regulating such private transactions.

As for landmarked buildings, owners are currently allowed to sell their rights to another owner located in the same vicinity, but are unable to do so because of the bureaucracy involved in finding a buyer. They also have the right to construct a larger structure on top of the building, but can’t because of the building’s protected status. Nonprofit and religious organizations and developers are asking for looser regulations on landmarked buildings that they believe will remove the red tape and allow further construction.

Crain’s reported that 78 blocks in Midtown East are being rezoned around the Grand Central Terminal. The mayor is looking to free up air rights transfers for that property, similar to what is currently being done in the theater district, where the owners are not restricted to whom they can sell their development rights.

The law office of Georgaklis & Mallas PLLC is experienced in various areas of real estate-related transactions. The firm’s skilled attorneys handle both commercial and residential transactions on behalf of lending institutions, real estate investment and management companies, business and individual clients. Call (718) 238-2400 or (212) 779-2400 for more information.