A group of City Council members sent Mayor Bill de Blasio a letter this week urging him to allow owners of landmarked nonprofits to sell a combined 25 million square feet of their air rights, which would then be used by developers in a few selected areas across the city to build taller buildings.
Democratic Councilmen Peter Koo of Queens and Ritchie Torres and Fernando Cabrera of the Bronx argued in the Feb. 24 letter that such a system would allow 180 landmarked nonprofit institutions to cash in on their full property values. Under current rules, those unused rights can be transferred only to sites close by.
"As you know, many religious and nonprofit institutions housed in individually designated landmarked structures struggle to maintain their buildings while providing services to further their mission," the letter stated. Mr. Koo is chair of the Committee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses and Mr. Torres is deputy leader of the council.
The trio used concepts and numbers contained in a proposal advanced by a group called Iconplans, which is led by former real estate broker and grocery store executive Lawrence Daitch, and real estate investor Michael Lipstein. The duo first floated their idea years ago, during the Bloomberg administration.