Jona Rechnitz says he pressured de Blasio to help friend in lawsuit against SL Green

Developer ultimately settled litigation over Grand Central
October 31, 2017 12:20PM

From left: Rendering of One Vanderbilt, Marc Holliday, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Jona Rechnitz

Jona Rechnitz, the federal government’s star witness in its case against former corrections union boss Norman Seabrook, testified on Monday that he pressured the mayor to oppose SL Green Realty’s plans for its office tower, One Vanderbilt.

Rechnitz got involved on behalf of his friend Andrew Penson, owner of Grand Central at the time, who filed a lawsuit against SL Green and the city in 2015, alleging that when the city rezoned the area, it rendered his 1.2 million square feet of air rights useless. Rechnitz testified that he asked Mayor Bill De Blasio to speak to then-chairman of the City Planning Commission to “be more attentive to the issue,” Politico reported.

Weisbrod told Politico that the mayor never reached out to him to discuss his approach to One Vanderbilt.

SL Green settled the lawsuit last year, clearing the way for its 1.7 million-square-foot office tower.

Earlier this week, Rechnitz testified that the mayor gave him his cell phone number and told him to “call if there’s anything I need, always be in touch.” In a statement earlier this week, de Blasio said that Rechnitz “lied about the integrity of my administration, he lied about exchanges with me.” [Politico]Kathryn Brenzel