By Robert Jacobs, partner, Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman
In their quest to provide what many consider the ultimate residential amenity in Manhattan, developers are seeking Central Park views for luxury buildings on streets that do not border Central Park.
One solution is to construct buildings of enormous height that merely overshadow their neighbors facing Central Park.
However, because intervening mammoth buildings could someday block these much sought-after views, developers are seeking light and air easements from buildings bordering Central Park.
A luxury co-operative building on Central Park South was recently represented by BBWG in the transfer of a light and air easement to a developer.
The developer had broken ground to construct a luxury condominium building on 58th Street. However, between the building site and Central Park are the relatively tall buildings lining Central Park South. In order to ensure a view for its higher floors, the developer approached the co-op about purchasing a light and air easement.
After much negotiation, the co-op agreed to sell a light and air easement to the developer.
The light and air easement commences at a horizontal limiting plane over the highest point of the co-op’s roof, which is the co-op’s water tower. The co-op was amenable to providing a light and air easement because, under current zoning regulations, the building is already over-built.
In fact, although over-built, the co-op had previously sold its excess development rights to a predecessor of the developer that was able to increase the co-op’s floor area by procuring Inclusionary Housing Certificates [which provide a 20 percent floor area bonus]).
As a result of the huge windfall gleaned by the co-op on the current sale, the co-op was able to pay off its underlying mortgage, and the co-op is now debt free.
Bottom line — the co-op turned thin air that it had no foreseeable use for into hard cash, thus benefitting all of its current and future shareholders by retiring its debt, permanently.