St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Bartholomew’s Church and Central Synagogue, which have 2 million square feet of air rights among them, are lobbying for the ability to sell the rights to developers in the area running from East 39th Street to East 57th Street, between Fifth Avenue to Second Avenue.
“We have been given this responsibility to maintain historic structures, and yet as part of that we have not been allowed to realize the value of those structures, and that puts us in a difficult position,” Lawrence Graham, chief administrative officer of St. Bart’s on Park Avenue and East 51st Street, told Crain’s.
Current regulations limit the peddling of air rights to neighboring properties or buildings across the street. St. Patrick’s Cathedral, located on Fifth Avenue from East 50th to East 51st streets, is surrounded by tall buildings and landmarked sites which cannot be developed any further. Central Synagogue, at East 55th Street and Lexington Avenue, is actually outside the area that will be rezoned.
Currently, the city would be the only party able to sell air rights, the proceeds of which would go back into the neighborhood with infrastructure improvements, Crain’s reported. The rezoning proposal enters its official public review phase in the spring.