1.6 Billion Square-Feet of Unused Air Rights in NYC

The rental market in NYC is primed for change and not everyone agrees on which direction to go. With landlord/tenant regulations set to change in June, the rental landscape in NYC could look very different in 10 years. Additionally, air rights, also called development rights, are also on the legislative docket. NYC currently has over 1.6 billion unused air rights. Of the five boroughs, Queens currently has the most unused air rights, and being quite suburban, Queens is well positioned for future skyward growth as its population continues to increase.

Although NYC’s air rights can be controversial and extremely complicated at times, they remain a very useful tool for growth. Developers need to navigate a gauntlet of government regulations, co-op boards, historical designations, and public sentiment. Just last year, a co-op board denied a $54 million offer to purchase their available developmental rights for a two-building condo project.

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) owns roughly 80 million square feet of unused air rights that may be up for sale soon. In addition to selling air rights, the proposed 10-year plan from NYCHA also includes handing over management of about 35% of its controlled units to private management companies. NYCHA has also stipulated that these management companies carry out specific improvements over the next 10 years.

Unsurprisingly, most residential air rights are located on blocks with more green space than average, even when the buildings reach upwards of 18 stories. This means there’s a high amount of versatility in the usage of the air rights, whether they’re sold to adjacent blocks for projects, used within for infill projects, or to maintain views and sunlight by keeping them unused.

The big question is, where are these air rights located? Here at PropertyShark, we have a one-stop shop for air rights in NYC. The map below is a snapshot of where air rights are not being used and may be available for purchase, right down to the lot and parcel. We’ve identified three for you check out:

Explore the map for yourself here.

Patrick McGregor

Patrick McGregor

Patrick McGregor is a senior writer covering the real estate industry and overall economic trends in the United States for several Yardi product publications. He also holds an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. Patrick was previously a commercial real estate analyst at Yardi Matrix for five years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Bisnow, GlobeSt, The Real Deal, Business Insider, The Denver Post, The Motley Fool, and more.