Mortgage Observer

Development Rights: Lender’s View

Joshua Stein

As we all know, developers can acquire unused development potential from nearby properties that are underbuilt. People sometimes incorrectly refer to unused development potential as “F.A.R.” But F.A.R. is just the abbreviation for “floor area ratio,” which is only one variable in the formula that defines development rights. In a city of skyscrapers, an acquisition of unused development rights can allow a New York developer to build higher than otherwise, thus often making much more money.

Unused development rights trade for $500 to $600 per square foot at prime sites, or up to $1,000 per square foot at “ultra” prime sites, according to Eric Anton of HFF, who puts together many of these deals. Even at these prices, development rights usually trade for less per square foot of development potential than land, so can represent a great investment for the developer. Read More

The Air Up There

Could More Flexible Air Rights Policies Facilitate the Growth of Affordable Housing?

Could air transfers reforms

During the 1970s fiscal crisis, the city acquired significant quantities of property by way of owner abandonment and tax foreclosure, which it used in subsequent decades to subsidize affordable housing development. Virtually none of that land remains available today, however, and as we recently noted, the now-stratospheric cost of privately held land poses myriad obstacles to new affordable housing production, particularly in neighborhoods with good public schools, ready access to transportation and employment centers. Read More

Developing Situations

Art Students League Approves Extell Cantilever

A rendering of the planned tower at 217 W. 57th Street.

At a meeting last night, members of the Art Students League approved Extell’s controversial plan to cantilever a 1,424-foot skyscraper above the school’s landmarked French Renaissance building on W. 57th Street. The Smith + Gordon Gill-designed tower, to rise at 217 West 57th Street, has now cleared the final roadblock needed to move forward with construction. Read More

Developing Situations

Extell Gives Art Students League a Deadline: Approve Cantilever by Wednesday or Lose $31.8 M. Deal

Could the project move forward without a cantilever?

Extell’s controversial plan to cantilever a 1,424-foot skyscraper at 217 West 57th Street over the Art Students League, which won city approval last fall, will be abandoned if the League’s members reject the deal at a vote tonight, according to the developer. Extell has promised to walk away from the deal, which would net the League $31.8 million, and move forward without the cantilever, if the League does not reach an agreement by Wednesday night. Read More

St. Bart’s and the Value of Air

St. Bartholomew's Church, 325 Park Ave., finds itself pitted against the city to find a market for its air rights.

St. Bartholomew’s Church, 325 Park Avenue, finds itself at odds with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to rezone midtown to allow for taller buildings in that it will have to compete with the city when it brings its air rights to the auction block.

As a designated landmark, St. Bart’s must endure a laborious Read More