Is the Landmarks Prevention Law Applied to Protect a Heritage Structure's Historical and Asthetic Features ?
In Penn Central Transp. Co. v. New York City, 438 U.S. 104, 57 L. Ed. 2d 631, 98 S. Ct. 2646 (1978), New York City applied its Landmarks Preservation Law (Law) to designate the Grand Central Terminal (Terminal) as a landmark, and the block it occupied as a landmark site.
The purpose of such designation was to protect the building and the surrounding area from decisions that could destroy or fundamentally alter their character.
Appellant, Penn Central, owner of the Terminal, entered into a lease agreement with appellant UGP Properties to construct a multi-story office building over the Terminal.
New York City's Landmark Preservation Commission rejected the appellants' plan as destructive of the Terminal's historic and aesthetic features.
The appellants then brought suit in state court claiming, inter alia, that application of the Law to the property effected a taking without just compensation.
The U.S. Supreme Court identified several factors that it found significant in determining whether a taking has occurred.
The Court recognized, as factors, "the economic impact of the regulation on the claimant and, particularly, the extent to which the regulation has interfered with distinct investment-backed expectations" and "the character of the governmental action." Id. at 124.
The Court explained:
"Taking" jurisprudence does not divide a single parcel into discrete segments and attempt to determine whether rights in a particular segment have been entirely abrogated.
In deciding whether a particular governmental action has effected a taking, this Court focuses rather both on the character of the action and on the nature and extent of the interference with rights in the parcel as a whole....Id. at 130.