The Grand Central Case: The Preservation of Individual Historic Landmarks

  • December 21, 1977
  • • Written by: Frank B. Gilbert 

Winter 1977, Vol 2, No 2

Abstract: In June, New York State’s highest Court, the Court of Appeals, upheld the landmark status of Grand Central Terminal and sustained the denial of permission to build a 55-story office tower on the site. The unanimous opinion upheld the New York City landmarks preservation law and commented favorably on the transfer of development rights as a way to give an owner a reasonable return on his property. Under the decission, an owner’s constitutional rights would be satisfied when he received a reasonable return on his landmark building. In addition, the opinion by Chief Judge Charles Breitel recognized the tangible contributions by the government to the present value of this railroad station and its site and said that the owner “is not absolutely entitled to receive a return on so much of the properties value as was created by social investment.” The author calls attention to the increased interest in historic preservation as demonstrated by the 500 municipal ordinances for the identification and protection of historic property.