By Sabina Mollot
Blackstone’s $5.3 billion purchase of Stuy Town also bought the firm a jumbo 700,000 square feet of air rights that could wind up being “just the tip of the iceberg” in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to preserve and build affordable housing in the city, according to one expert.
News of the air rights in Stuy Town — and new owner Blackstone’s claim over them, along with the 110-building property, was reported in the Wall Street Journal last week.
While the value of the air or development rights wasn’t clear since it depends where they’d end up, commercial real estate attorney Michael Greenberg, also founder and CEO of the Level Group brokerage firm, predicted many more similar arrangements in the future as the city looks for creative ways to get those elusive units of affordable housing.
In Stuyvesant Town, this meant preservation, and if air rights are transferred elsewhere, possibly new affordable housing.
Blackstone and its partner in the Stuy Town deal, Ivanhoe Cambridge, have gotten the city’s support to transfer the Stuy Town air rights since the owner has made a commitment not to build on the property’s open spaces or its existing structures.
“What’s unusual is that it’s rare for the city to allow it — there have been requests for them to allow the transfer to sites that are not contiguous or to other neighborhoods even,” said Greenberg.