“highest and best use”

Reading the seminal Preservation case of Penn Central Transportation Co. v. City of New York, I find it ironic that in 1978 the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the Landmark designation, process and protection, contending that Penn Central was being whiney in demanding that they couldn’t build a big new Breuer tower directly over Grand Central Terminal. Penn Central Co. claimed they were being cheated out of the maximum profit, the court ruled, among other things, that while they had a constitutional right to make a “reasonable rate of return” no one in fact had the constitutional right to “the highest and best use” of your property. There’s a lot more in here, but what is ironic, is that, just as the court ruled back then (the terminal was making a reasonable return as it existed) today Grand Central, as it grows more and more commercialized—I’m especially thinking of the Apple Store here—the terminal is making very fine use of it’s profitability within the constraints provided. See? they did just fine.

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