Jay Neveloff is a partner at Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel whose practice is focused on real estate and other commercial transactions. His past and present client list includes Starwood Hotels, the owners of Starrett City, New York Life Insurance Co. and the Trump Organization. Mr. Neveloff spoke to The Commercial Observer last week about how land-use issues have evolved in the city over the past 10 years.
The Commercial Observer: Has land-use law evolved over the past decade or so here in New York and, if so, how?
Mr. Neveloff: Land use almost precedes the economy. It’s a very good indicator of development or future development in the city. We think it’s a great sign of future development when clients are asking questions about what can be built, how uses can be changed. So I think it’s a critical indicator. In terms of evolution, the city and the land-use buyers are always looking at adapting to the economy. You could see, for example, attention being spent to the potential change in zoning for Park Avenue. You could see what’s happening with areas like the train yards—so it has evolved as the city has evolved.
Another facet that fascinates me is how land use is affected by technology. For example, Google coming in to 111 Eighth Avenue—hence a massive change in the way that owners and developers and investors have looked at the area. There’s a lot going on and I, for one, think it’s driven by the economy and it’s driven by technology.
How much of Kramer Levin’s business is dedicated toward the issue of land use?
We have approximately 20 full-time professionals involved in land use. And Sandy Lindenbaum, Paul Selver and Michael Sillerman are the people who lead it.
Have you all worked on any notable cases involving land use that you can mention?
In terms of litigation, we’ve represented Columbia University in land use matters for its new Manhattanville campus. We’ve represented the developer of Atlantic Yards in land-use matters; we’re representing CIM and Macklowe on the land-use matters for the development of the new building on the Drake Hotel site on Park and 57th Street.
What’s your take on the whole New York University 2031 issue? Do you think the opposition to that might actually go anywhere?
I’m not involved in it, but I think a balance has been struck between preserving the integrity of Greenwich Village together with supporting a major educational institution and employer in the city, NYU, in its need to keep pace with its demands. NYU has become a major, world-renowned educational institution. So I personally think a good balance has been struck between the community and NYU.—Carl Gaines