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Christopher Rizzo and Karen Meara, Carter Ledyard & Millburn.

On June 28, 2018, the board of the Hudson River Park Trust approved two real estate deals that highlight special aspects of the Trust and the state law under which it operates—the 1998 Hudson River Park Act. The Trust approved the sale of 158,000 square feet of unused development rights (aka “air rights”) to two developers for $52,000,000. In recent years the Trust has also used its statutory authority to issue long-term leases for park facilities constructed by private partners, collectively valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Virtually no other park operator in the state has the ability to raise revenue in this fashion—sale of air rights and issuance of leases. And the Trust is using those powers to great effect—nearing completion of the four-mile-long park at a cost of almost a billion dollars. This article focuses on some of the ways that disparate laws and policies governing parks are creating open space winners and losers and how a few changes might level the playing field.

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