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NYCHA ramps up air rights sales to developers

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The Queensbridge Houses NYCHA complex in Long Island City.
Max Touhey

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NYCHA looks to ramp up air rights sales

In late 2018, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) unveiled plans to rake in $1 billion by selling unused air rights as part of a package of strategies to help revitalize the authority’s dilapidated buildings. Now, more than a year later, the public housing authority has released a revised, citywide Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) seeking those who want to purchased unused development rights for high-rise projects.

Under the Transfer to Preserve program, would-be air rights buyers must propose “as of right” plans—development speak for allowed under the existing zoning—to transfer those rights to neighboring privately-owned parcels. In exchange, proceeds from the sale support sorely-needed renovations of NYCHA buildings. The authority typically reviews these proposals on an ad hoc basis, but with the revised RFEI, a new “citywide clearing house” will allow NYCHA to review more proposals more quickly, says the housing agency.

NYCHA finalized an agreement earlier this month to sell 9,000 square feet of development and parking rights at Hobbs Court—a 259-unit affordable housing development on NYCHA-owned land in East Harlem—in exchange for $2.6 million. A handful of similar deals are in the work at other NYCHA properties across the city, according to the agency.

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