The Real Deal New York

Grand Central owner threatens $1B suit over One Vanderbilt

Argent Ventures says city seized its air rights in rezoning that allowed tower's go-ahead

July 17, 2014 11:50AM

From left: Andrew Penson, Grand Central and 1 Vanderbilt rendering

From left: Andrew Penson, Grand Central and 1 Vanderbilt rendering

Lawyers for Grand Central Terminal’s landlord have threatened to sue the city for $1 billion over an air-rights dispute related to the construction of SL Green’s One Vanderbilt.

At a City Planning meeting on Wednesday, the attorneys claimed that the city unconstitutionally seized the property of Argent Ventures, the railroad station’s landlord, when it proposed the rezoning of a five-block area adjacent to Grand Central known as the Vanderbilt Corridor, the Commercial Observer reported. Under the plan, SL Green would not be required to purchase any of Argent’s 1.3 million square feet of air rights, which include the parcels on which SL Green’s 1.8-million-square-foot One Vanderbilt tower would rise.

“The development rights above Grand Central are property rights, and the Constitution protects those rights from being taken from their owners without just compensation,” said Argent’s attorney Duane Loft of Boies, Schiller & Flexner at the meeting, the news site reported.

SL Green secured the right to build 672 feet over current zoning scale without purchasing Argent’s rights by reaching a deal with the city to build public space and fund transit improvements, according to the news site.

City Planning spokesperson Rachaele Raynoff told The Real Deal in an email the arrangement “does not preclude the ability of the owner of Grand Central’s transferable development rights to sell them.” She added that the ability to sell would be expanded under the framework by allowing nearby sites to absorb more floor area ratio in development rights from Grand Central than they currently can.

Argent’s president and founder, Andrew Penson, locked horns with the city last year over the valuation of air rights in the area. [NYO]Tom DiChristopher

  • YES I AM RIGHT U DEMOCRAT U

    Gov’t theft again. All the gov’t is today is an engine for theft. It doesn’t do anything to protect private wealth: rather just a way to steal wealth and redistribute it to those who help the gov’t workers in power. The truth is, the air rights are property, and the city worker who let this go should go to jail for 1-2 yr as a lesson to stop trying to make a career by stealing from the private world.

    • Abundance

      redistributing the wealth from rich and powerful Argent to poor and lowly SL Green, the largest office landlord in the City. Right..

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