The Owner Of Grand Central Drops Lawsuit Ending Epic Gotham Tantrum

The Owner Of Grand Central Drops Lawsuit Ending Epic Gotham Tantrum

By Dan Bratman August 23, 2016
Image courtesy of

When we think of the clash of New York real estate titans, we think of epic deals, risky ventures that pay off and some that become devastating losses. But often what’s really happening is far less heroic—more like two kids fighting in a sandbox. Behold: Midtown TDR Ventures versus, well, everybody.

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The $1.1 billion lawsuit by Midtown TDR Ventures (owners of Grand Central Terminal) against SL Green Realty Corporation, the New York City Council, and the de Blasio administration has just been dropped after a protracted negotiation. The settlement, in typical Gotham Goliath form, remains undisclosed. We present for your consideration the saga of victor arising from the ashes of a scorched real estate battlefield—or boardroom at least. Today’s epic urban battles are more like musical chairs that Game of Thrones. Anyways.

When TDR Ventures bought Grand Central in 2006 for about $80 million, it was probably not for the reasons you might imagine. While the iconic train station is one of the most notable landmarks in the US, it was by no means a cash cow. The deal with the MTA included a long-term lease where the rent decreased over time. But the real value in the deal was with the 1.2 million square feet of unused development rights in the air. That’s right, air rights above the terminal. How much money is there in air these days, you might ask? Well, quite a bit, if you can put a skyscraper in it. So, the area above the terminal was what was really in dispute. Building a skyscraper there, as you might imagine, is big business.

Now at some point after the purchase by Midtown TDR, there were negotiations to change the zoning to allow building much taller structures around it, making the air rights potentially very valuable. TDR began to negotiate with SL Green to sell the rights. But the deal turned sour and everybody walked away calling each other names.

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Later, de Blasio rezoned a nearby area of Vanderbilt Ave, allowing SL Green to take their ball and play across the street. SL Green then proceeded to build a 65 story building. But Midtown TDR got all in a huff and decided to sue the city and SL Green to stop any progress because they felt robbed of their chance to have SL Green buy the air rights above Grand Central. Are you still with me? So, TDR bought a ball and wanted to play with SL Green. But SL Green didn’t like the way TDR played and left to play with de Blasio instead. TDR cried to mommy (the courts) and mommy said drop it and go play by yourself.

While this whole tantrum transpired, SL Green went ahead and started to demolish buildings before they had permission to build the new one. Which is kinda like licking the last cookie so your brother can’t have it. A bold move indeed. But luckily, in light of the suit being dropped, it seems to turn out just fine.

An interesting glimpse into the masters of the universe and their squabbles. It appears that no amount of money can keep your bratty friend from taking their ball and going home.

Dan Bratman



Dan began his career at the age of four when he wrote a poem for his mother about farmers. While his mom believes this was the peak of his career, he went on to publish poetry, fiction and countless articles. For the last seven years, Dan has worked as writer and editor for numerous publications around the world.

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