Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

NYC Supertall Moves Forward After Suit

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Comment | More

Plans for a new skyscraper near Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan are moving forward after spending nearly a year in legal limbo.

One Vanderbilt, a 1,401-foot “supertall” office building to be constructed on East 42nd Street next to Grand Central, had been sidetracked while the owner of the transit terminal building, Midtown TDR Ventures, took the new building’s developers to court over perceived damage to their “air rights.” The suit was settled out of court last week.

One Vanderbilt rendering
Images: KPF

According to architect KPF, One Vanderbilt’s planned shape “creates an elegant proportion sympathetic to nearby Chrysler Building.” (Architect's rendering.)

Midtown TDR, run by Andrew S. Penson, filed suit last September, arguing that New York City, when it permitted a zoning change that would allow SL Green to build the skyscraper next door, had rendered his air rights over Grand Central worthless.

Air Rights

The argument boiled down to the fact that Penson had bought Grand Central with the impression that he’d be able to make money selling the air rights over the building. Since Grand Central is a landmark, it can’t actually be built over, but an adjacent developer could purchase the rights to develop over it, then transfer those development rights to their own nearby property, allowing them to build taller than they would normally be permitted under zoning regulations.

The New York Times reports that Penson negotiated to sell his air rights to SL Green, but that negotiations broke down over the price Penson wanted for the air rights.

One Vanderbilt with Grand Central, rendering

“At the base, a series of angled cuts organize a visual procession to Grand Central Terminal, revealing the Vanderbilt corner of its magnificent cornice," KPF says.

The city then rezoned the property next door to allow SL Green to build One Vanderbilt as a supertall skyscraper—without needing to purchase any of Grand Central’s air rights. Penson argued that the city essentially rendered his air rights worthless in doing so, and therefore took his property without giving anything in exchange, and without any public benefit.

SL Green argues that in fact there is a public benefit: The deal to rezone the property for One Vanderbilt came with a responsibility on the developer’s part to make improvements to the subway platforms underneath it, to the tune of $220 million.

The Suit

Penson and Midtown TDR filed suit against both SL Green and New York City over the matter in September 2015, shortly after the rezoning took place. The resolution—an out-of-court settlement in which SL Green paid Midtown a “de minimis” amount, according to the Times—came last week.

The Times reports that two of Midtown TDR's major investors, Lehman Brothers and Fortress Investment, were recently bought out of the partnership by MSD Capital and K. Thomas and Frederick Elghanayan, and that the new partners chose to abandon the suit.

"We're pleased that the new ownership of Midtown TDR Ventures shares our commitment to development in East Midtown and worked with us to quickly reach this agreement," said SL Green CEO Marc Holliday. "With demolition nearly complete and work already underway on public improvements, One Vanderbilt is well on the way to becoming a reality."

About the Building

One Vanderbilt was originally announced as a 1,501-foot building, but more recent plans have the building scaled down to 1,401 feet. It was designed by global architecture firm Kohn Pederson Fox, which has built supertalls including China’s Shanghai World Financial Center.

According to KPF, the building’s planned shape “creates an elegant proportion sympathetic to nearby Chrysler Building.”

“At the base, a series of angled cuts organize a visual procession to Grand Central Terminal, revealing the Vanderbilt corner of its magnificent cornice—a view which has been obstructed for nearly a century,” the firm adds.

While construction on One Vanderbilt has not begun, reports indicate that demolition of the buildings on the site has been ongoing. The building will be used for offices and retail space.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Building Envelope; Building owners; Commercial Construction; Construction; Developers; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; Laws and litigation; Lawsuits; North America

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.


DeFelsko Corporation

Tarps manufacturing, Inc.

Sauereisen, Inc.

SAFE Systems, Inc.

KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office


Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL

The Technology Publishing Network

PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us