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Air Rights the Reigning Currency for Manhattan Developers

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1) This week's hunters, Nicole and Brent, a young married couple, have a number of non-negotiable requirements for their dream condo in lower Manhattan, for which they would like to pay around $1 million. It doesn't seem like it's going to work out—every place they look at has too little space, or too high monthly fees, or the wrong layout, or is in close proximity to the nursery school where Nicole works (she has trouble remembering which parent goes with which kid.) And then, suddenly, it does work out, as they find exactly what they were looking for in 75 Wall Street. It's a real triumph of the human spirit. They move in and the building promptly floods during Hurricane Sandy. [The Hunt/'Come Sit With Me While I Cook']

2) For new Manhattan developments, the only way to go is up. With little available space on the ground (and, of course, with sweeping views driving up prices) air rights "have become the reigning currency of the redevelopment realm." One appraiser and "air-rights expert" claims that they're currently trading for 50 to 60 percent of what land goes for. Of course, there can be drawbacks to selling your air rights, even if you can't personally do anything with them. "When One57 came along, we sold our air rights to Gary Barnett just like every other midrise on the block," said the owner of a 58th Street penthouse. "I didn't get money in my pocket, but our co-op got $5 million, so it was a win-win in the end [but] now One57 blocks my view of Carnegie Hall." ['The Great Air Race'; photo by Vivienne Gucwa]