The owner of Grand Central Terminal, Andrew Penson, is suing the city of New York for $1.1 billion, following the city’s green-lighting the construction of a 65-story tower nearby, called One Vanderbilt.
Due to the new zoning laws put into place by the de Blasio administration, SL Green was permitted by the city to begin construction without purchasing air rights from Penson. In exchange, the developer will fund a $220 million renovation project, including improvements to subway platforms and stairwells below Grand Central. Penson alleges in his complaint that "such improvements would have had to be made anyway under the prior zoning."
The lawsuit goes on to claim that the deal brokered by the De Blasio administration, City Council and SL Green have rendered his air rights “worthless." Penson is seeking the equivalent of $880 per square foot.
A Manhattan-born former lawyer and current managing partner at Midtown Trackage Ventures, Penson bought Grand Central for $80 million in 2006. Along with the terminal, he purchased 1.2 million sq ft of air rights at $60 per square foot, with the intention of selling them to developers interested in building nearby.
Jonathan Rosen, a spokesperson for SL Green, called Penson’s suit “frivolous.” Construction on 1501-ft tower, slated to stand at the corner of E. 42nd street and Vanderbilt Avenue, tower has not yet begun. The project is unlikely to be affected by the lawsuit.