An $11m view: Loft owners spend hard cash to maintain their view over Manhattan

Most cities face real estate battles over land. The upper class of New York often fights over the air. But what’s too much for a view?

July 23, 2019

People these days will do anything to maintain their sense of luxury. But when you have endless amounts of money, how far is too far?

The New York Times reports that when the residents of a historic 12-story loft building in Chelsea got wind of an incoming tower next door — threatening to block their pristine view of the Empire State Building — they offered the developer $11m not to build. 

Because in the concrete rainforest of New York, where having a view is even a scarcity for the 1%, the moody blue sunset is everything.

Fighting for air

Instead of dragging in ordinance officials, the owners of the loft decided to buy out the developer’s air rights of the looming property (yes in New York you can buy air). 

If they wanted to, they could turn around and build on the air themselves. But they have no intention to. That space is for sky and sky only.

And this isn’t the first time ‘view money’ has talked

Over the years, billionaires have battled over the city’s limited skyline — waterside apartments blotting out Brooklyn Bridge vistas, and highrises that cast shadows over Central Park — even one other instance of buying up the air.

The NYT found one case in which the residents of a condominium coughed up over $3m to purchase the air rights of an adjacent property owner.

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