Artist in Residence Buildings

December 20, 2017 | By Charles Botensten

Q: What is an Artist in Residence (“AIR”) building?  How does an individual qualify to reside in an AIR building?

A: Certain buildings within New York City, generally in the SOHO and NOHO areas, are designated as living-working spaces for “artists.”  “Artist” is defined by the applicable statute as “a person who is regularly engaged in the fine arts, such as painting and sculpture or in the performing or creative arts, including choreography and filmmaking, or in the composition of music on a professional basis, and is so certified by the city department of cultural affairs and/or state council on the arts”.

Individuals seeking to reside in an AIR building must file an application for artist certification with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.  These applications for certification are reviewed by an advisory committee of professional artists, art educators and administrators representing a variety of fine arts disciplines, who then make a recommendation to the New York City Commissioner of Cultural Affairs on whether or not to issue the certification.  The criteria used in considering an applicant’s eligibility for certification are (i) the individual is engaged in the fine arts, not the commercial arts, regularly and on an ongoing basis; (ii) the individual demonstrates a serious, consistent commitment to his or her art form; (iii) the individual is currently engaged in his or her art form; and (iv) the individual demonstrates a need for a large loft space in which to create his or her art. 

Important Tip: If you have a prospective purchaser who does not meet the definition of an “artist,” but is interested in purchasing an AIR apartment, you must insist that the prospective purchaser speak to his/her attorney to discuss the risks associated with such an acquisition.

The Legal Line Question by:
Neil B. Garfinkel
REBNY Broker Counsel

Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP