Calling All Penn Central Junkies!

Remember the Penn Central Transportation Co. v. City of New York case? If you don’t, who can blame you? But if you are sufficiently interested to do some reading about it now, check out an article in the New York Times that somehow slipped by us, and that will provide you with an up to date status of the forgotten part of the Penn Central litigation, namely Grand Central Terminal’s transferable development rights. Those rights were mentioned but not really discussed by the US Supreme Court in its famous — or infamous, depending on your point of view — opinion appearing in 438 US 104 (1979).

It looks like now, some 40 years after the Penn Central opinion, those rights are finally being sold for heavy coin, being as the City of New York has rezoned the area around Grand Central, so those TDRs can be used.

For those of our readers who want to get into the litigational end of the Penn Central controversy, we also recommend our article, Gideon Kanner, Making Laws and Sausages: a Quarter-Century Retrospective on Penn Central Transportation Co. v. City of New York, 13 Wm. & Mary Bill Rts. Jour. 653 (2005). It’s on the long side but it will tell you all you need to know about the Penn Central inverse condemnation litigation, and then some. That was the — by our standards — infamous case in which the Supreme Court confessed that it “has been simply unable” to articulate a coherent statement of a regulatory inverse condemnation case, and instead of giving us some workable rules, gave us a list of three vague “factors” to consider when trying to decide whether the complained-of property regulation is so onerous as to require payment of just compensation to the overregulated property’s owner. Believe it or not, the US Supreme Court somehow managed to transmogrify its confessed inability to articulate any reliable rules governing regulatory takings into what it called “a polestar’ it thought would guide us through the doctrinal and logical mess that is the Supreme Court’s regulatory takings law.

So if you are interested in that subject, have at it folks.