The City Planning Commission has voted to up the cost of air rights transfers in the special Midtown Manhattan district that includes Broadway’s theaters, The Real Deal reports. Currently, when developers purchase air rights from theaters between West 40th and West 57th Streets from Sixth to Eighth Avenues, they pay $17.60 per square foot to the Theater Subdistrict Fund. Transferable development rights can usually only be used for adjacent properties, but the city created the special district in 1998 to help the theater industry thrive amid sharply rising real estate prices; within the district, air rights can be moved more freely in a larger area outside the usual “arms length” restrictions.
Ever since the city’s 421-a tax exemption program expired in January, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) have been negotiating under what terms to extend and/or modify the program. Both groups took part in what the city believes were “secret talks” with Governor Cuomo over the summer, after which he released his proposal to revise 421-a with wage subsidies for construction workers. REBNY was concerned about this stipulation, claiming it would increase construction costs by up to 30 percent, but a press release sent yesterday evening reports that they’ve reached an agreement with the Trades Council to move ahead with Cuomo’s version of the plan, which, in addition to setting a $60 hourly wage for qualifying projects in Manhattan and $45 in Brooklyn and Queens, extends the tax breaks up to 35 years (up from de Blasio’s proposed 25 years) and mandates newly created affordable units be kept in place for 40 years.
Historic brownstones in Brooklyn Heights via City Realty
The war wages on between the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and citywide preservationists. Many thought the contention between the groups over whether or not historic districts lessen affordable housing was a personal sentiment of former REBNY president Steven Spinola. But his successor John Banks has released a new report that claims landmarking doesn’t protect affordable housing.
The report looks at the number of rent-stabilized units in landmarked and non-landmarked districts between 2007 and 2014, finding that “citywide, landmarked properties lost rent stabilized units (-22.5%) at a much higher rate (-5.1%) than non-landmarked properties.” Of course preservationists quickly fired back. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) calls the study “bogus” and says it does nothing to address how many units would have been lost had these areas not been landmarked.
Brooklyn’s Pacific Park development, one of the pipeline projects examined in the report for it’s affordable housing offer. Rendering by COOKFOX
This morning the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) released a report today saying if the city fails to renew the existing 421-a partial tax exemption program, we could stand to lose thousands of affordable units. REBNY took a look at a sample of projects in the pipeline—including Essex Crossing, 5Pointz, Domino and Pacific Park, amongst others—and found that 421-a is responsible for 5,484 affordable apartments and 13,801 market-rate units in these developments. They argue that without the abatement the theses units would be in jeopardy and be “immediately be sent back to the drawing board.” They add that some of the units could even end up as high-end luxury condominiums and some of the middle- and low-income housing now in the works would be lost forever.