Owner of Grand Central Sues City and One Vanderbilt Developer for $1.1 Billion

Posted On Tue, September 29, 2015 By

Posted On Tue, September 29, 2015 By In Major Developments, Midtown, Midtown East

Grand Central owner Andrew Penson is back in the news again, this time suing the city and One Vanderbilt developer SL Green for a princely sum of $1.1 billion. As the NY Times reports, Penson is claiming that the 65-story behemoth slated to rise next door to the historic structure has led to the devaluation of his air rights atop the terminal.

Penson claims that the de Blasio administration, the City Council and SL Green “deprived him of his property rights when the city gave SL Green permission to build a 1,501-foot tall office tower, without having to buy any air rights from him.” By allowing for a tower twice the size of what was zoned for the block “for free” (but really, in exchange for a $220M investment into the subway infrastructure beneath Grand Central), his air rights have been rendered “worthless.”

One Vanderbilt Avenue by kpf and sl green

The Times sums the suit as involving “complex questions of zoning, constitutional law, politics and potential conflicts of interest, but it boils down to what always matters most in New York real estate: millions and millions of dollars.” As such, Penson wants to be compensated for his loss, which in the lawsuit he pins as $880 per square foot for the air rights—or “just compensation” as it’s written. Penson originally bought Grand Central for about $80 million in 2006 and its air rights for less than $60 a square foot.

In response to the hoopla, SL Green spokesman Jonathan Rosen simply said that the project would not be “sidetracked by frivolous litigation.” One Vanderbilt received the last green light needed back in May. Construction has not yet started on the structure.

[Via NY Times]

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