By Sabina Mollot
As part of its $5.45 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village, new owner Blackstone has also acquired the property’s air rights. Blackstone has said those will be used elsewhere in the city and has committed not to build over ST/PCV’s open spaces or to redevelop existing structures.
Recently, the New York Post’s Lois Weiss noted that those air or redevelopment rights (roughly one million square feet) include about 250,000 square feet that have been retained through a Stuyvesant Town associated LLC. These include 200,000 square feet for a community facility, 25,000 for residential and 25,000 for commercial, the Post said, adding that the rights could be worth $625 million.
Additionally, Weiss later reported that the aforementioned figures actually fell short of the actual amount of air rights — that, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer, there were actually 10.7 million square feet of transferable air or development rights. This meant that even at a discounted rate, they could fetch an addition $1 million.
The initial article quoted an anonymous Blackstone executive explaining the deed filings as the air rights merely being divided between different entities.
When asked for comment by T&V, Paula Chirhart, a spokesperson for Blackstone, reiterated Blackstone’s promise not to use those air rights in ST/PCV. She added that with the sale having just closed, there are also no plans in the near future for doing anything with those air rights elsewhere.
In order to use air rights, developers have to go through a lengthy ULURP process, which includes getting feedback from community boards and elected officials. According to reps for Mayor de Blasio, Blackstone would be no exception to this process, despite the mayor’s involvement in the Stuy Town sale and his support of the air rights transfer.
Following the sale, Wiley Norvell, a spokesperson for the mayor, told Town & Village that any transfer of air rights that resulted in residential use would be subject to mandatory inclusionary zoning, which means at least 25-30 percent affordable housing.
“This,” said Norvell, “represents a commitment to work with the new owner, which has agreed not to develop any of the open spaces within the complex and to protect its affordable housing, and to study opportunities to transfer those existing rights elsewhere.”