One Vanderbilt sushi spot linked to fast-track inspection list

SL Green, one of Eric Adams’ biggest real estate backers, hosts the restaurant

One Vanderbilt Eatery Linked to Fast-Track Inspection List
Photo illustration of SL Green's Marc Holliday and Mayor Eric Adams (Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal with Getty)

The growing controversy regarding Mayor Eric Adams’ fundraising has now touched one of New York City’s largest commercial real estate landlords.

JoJi, a high-end sushi restaurant in the basement of SL Green’s One Vanderbilt, appeared on the deputy mayor of operations’ list of places eligible for fast-track Fire Department inspections, The City reported. That list has become a key part of a federal investigation into Adams’ fundraising.

Investigators are looking at whether the mayor’s donors were able to accelerate the process for required fire-safety system inspections at their properties. The former chief of the FDNY’s fire prevention bureau, Joseph Jardin, who is suing over his demotion, told the FBI that powerful real estate interests received expedited responses from his department if they had connections to City Hall.

JoJi was reportedly placed on the deputy mayor’s list in June 2022, three months ahead of SL Green’s planned opening of the restaurant, which was scheduled to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the company’s New York Stock Exchange debut.

The FDNY declined to comment on specific cases, but Joji opened in mid-September of that year, as planned.

A full accounting of the alleged priority list has not emerged, but it likely extends beyond the eatery in SL Green’s signature skyscraper.

A spokesperson for the mayor told The City that the DMO list did not exist, contradicting previous comments from Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh, who said the list existed, though for city priorities and not special interests. A spokesperson for SL Green declined to answer The City’s questions.

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In response to a previous City story, the Real Estate Board of New York said it never asked City Hall to create a priority list, but did advocate for its members when they requested help in getting fire inspections. Lengthy delays have plagued inspections and plan reviews for years, costing real estate firms and commercial tenants time and money.

REBNY and 10 other groups wrote to the City Council speaker in February 2021 about the delays. The Council held a hearing on the issue the next month.

The letter said underfunding of the FDNY service, along with increased work, has resulted in wait times of eight to 12 weeks for fire alarm plans to be reviewed or inspections to be conducted.

The financial ties between SL Green and Adams’ campaigns are no secret. SL Green chair Marc Holliday hosted a fundraiser in August 2021 that raised $30,900 for Adams’ mayoral campaign. The REIT’s executives and staff have donated $12,000 toward Adams’ next campaign, according to records through July.

Adams’ former chief of staff, Frank Carone, is representing SL Green’s bid to put a casino in Times Square.

Federal authorities are also looking into Adams for his alleged intervention in the approval process of the Turkish government’s high-rise consulate in Manhattan, as well as whether Adams’ 2021 campaign collaborated with the Turkish government to illegally funnel foreign funds into the race.

Holden Walter-Warner

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