Jon C. Popin concentrates his practice in land use law. He possesses a deep understanding of the land-use principals and concepts that control the use and development of property in New York City. As a result, Mr. Popin is able to analyze and review all types of land-use issues that affect developers and property owners and is able to come to concise and understandable conclusions. Mr. Popin is experienced in representing his clients in land use matters before New York City’s municipal agencies, including the New York City Department of City Planning, New York City Board of Standards and Appeals, New York City Department of Buildings, New York City Department of Housing, Preservation and Development and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Mr. Popin is also experienced in representing purchasers and sellers in the sale of unused development rights, also known as air rights. He also handles filings in connection with partial real property tax exemptions and abatements, including the 421-a, 421-b, 421-g, 420-c, J-51 and ICAP programs.
In addition, Mr. Popin is experienced in real estate finance and has represented lenders in sophisticated transactions, including commercial mortgage loans in securitizations, mezzanine loans, and construction and leasehold financings. He also has represented lenders specializing in the development and refinancing of affordable housing. This depth of experience gives Mr. Popin a greater degree of understanding of issues faced by land use clients.
Obtained zoning variances on behalf of the Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation (AAC) in connection with the enlargement of the Douglaston Plaza Shopping Center, a non-conforming commercial development located over a 13-acre site in Queens, New York within a residential zoning district; this zoning relief allowed AAC to lease more than 100,000 square feet to Lowe’s Home Improvement Center and allowed Lowe’s to identify the site with traditional signage.
Represented T&T Realty Management LLC in the acquisition of 42,581 square feet of unused development rights (“air rights”) from multiple properties adjoining its Upper East Side development parcel leading to the erection of an approximately 208,000 square foot high-rise residential luxury tower; also addressed zoning issues and obtained determinations from the New York City Department of Buildings regarding the legality of transferring air rights across non-contiguous portions of a zoning lot in a commercial zoning district connected by a portion of the zoning lot located in a residential zoning district.
Represented the owner of a 62,000 square foot parcel in a land swap with the City of New York; issues involved potential soil contamination, federal wetland permitting and newly proposed Special Purpose District on property to be swapped to owner.
Filed and processed an application for a zoning variance in connection with the proposed development of a vacant 17,891 square foot waterfront site in the Locust Point neighborhood of the Bronx into a multi-parcel residential sub-division; issues included high water-table, substandard soil conditions and lack of a city sewer serving the property.
Represented a large, multi-national WGO headquartered in Midtown Manhattan in connection with the security upgrade and renovation of its iconic building headquarters; worked with multiple local, state and national agencies in order to obtain plan approvals including a revocable consent from the City of New York to implement its safety/security plans.
Represented the Board of Managers of the Suffolk Homes Condominiums in the sale of 14,029 square feet of unused development rights (“air rights”) to a neighboring development site allowing for the demolition and redevelopment of the famous Matzoh Factory building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
Submitted an application with the New York City Department of City Planning for the rezoning of a portion of a city block in the Schuylerville section of the Bronx, which allows for the development of a multi-story building housing commercial offices, as well as multiple other retail, service and community facility uses.
Represented the Permanent Mission to the Government of Singapore in the purchase and development of its mission building in Manhattan's Midtown East, including obtaining multiple zoning determinations from the New York City Department of Buildings and issuing a zoning analysis regarding the zoning bulk controls that apply to redevelopment of a parcel located on a multi-parcel zoning lot.
Represented Lutheran Social Services of New York in obtaining a special permit to allow a nonpublic high school to operate in a South Bronx manufacturing district.
Represented the developer of a mixed-use parcel in the Little Italy section of Manhattan, including obtaining zoning special permit, authorizations and certification necessary for project development in Special Little Italy District and filing form 421-a, a partial tax exemption.
Represented hotel owner in the rezoning of a large hotel building near New York's JFK Airport.
Represented Trinity New York Development, LLC to obtain mayoral zoning overrides permitting development of an affordable housing tower on a portion of the Van Dyke Houses, a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) property in Brooklyn, New York; issues involved the relocation of a compactor area to another NYCHA property on a separate zoning lot, the introduction of a new, non-conforming compactor use on the nearby NYCHA property, and parking waivers for the Van Dyke property.
Represented Trinity New York Development, LLC in connection with land-use issues related to the development of a high-rise tower at 445 Grand Concourse in the Bronx; as this project was an initial development subject to the New York Department of City Planning’s (DCP) not-yet finalized Mandatory Inclusionary Housing Program (MIH), representation included negotiation with DCP on the final MIH text and amendments, and negotiation with the Landmark Preservation Commission concerning rescission of the landmark status of the to-be demolished building on the site.
Served as land-use counsel to Brooklyn Property Advisors in connection with proposed large-scale, mixed-use development of an approximately 4.7 acre vacant Con-Edison waterfront site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; issued a zoning analysis covering issues including the creation of a super block out of a multi-block site, street de-mappings, rezoning from M3 to C2-4/R8 and R8 Zoning Districts, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing requirements and waterfront zoning certification requirements
Served as land-use counsel on a large Citibank financing of a loft conversion in downtown Brooklyn, including analyzing the IMD (Interim Multiple Dwelling) status of the building, and counseled on issues related to the creation of new IMD Units, application of the amended Loft Law and navigation of the Loft Board process.
Represented the owner of 625 Madison Avenue in Manhattan in connection with a zoning analysis of the development potential of a mixed-use redevelopment of the site; issues included Special Midtown District bulk regulations and the potential availability of development rights (“air rights”) transfers.
Served as land-use counsel to Cathay Bank in the construction financing of a proposed 30+ story hotel development in Midtown Manhattan; issues included vesting rights prior to zoning text change, implications of zoning district boundary line bisecting the hotel parcel, and proposed cantilever of the hotel development over the zoning district boundary line.
Represented Midtown Manhattan luxury co-op penthouse owner in the legalization of a solarium erected in the 1970s without a building permit; as part of the legalization, obtained a zoning determination from the New York City Department of Buildings that the “1% Rule” applied to the development of the solarium in the substantially overbuilt co-op building.
Obtained a zoning determination from the New York City Department of Buildings in connection with the enlargement of a penthouse unit in the high-rise residential luxury tower located at 110 Central Park South in Manhattan; obtained approval to convert remaining unused mechanical deductions discovered as part of the residential conversion of the formerly iconic InterContinental Hotel into zoning floor area years after the certificate of occupancy was issued.
Obtained a zoning determination from the New York City Department of Buildings on behalf of PLS Check Cashers of New York, Inc., which provided for the location of a check cashing establishment on the ground floor of a building within the Special 125th Street District in Harlem, NYC.
Participated in the $780 million refinancing of the Sears Tower in Chicago.
Participated in the $140 million refinancing of a hotel in Times Square, New York, the mortgage of which encumbered ground lease, developments rights lease and fee ownership interests covering the property, together with $130 million in layered mezzanine financing.
Participated in the $100 million acquisition and construction-mortgage financing of a proposed 50-story mixed-use new building in midtown Manhattan, which included the purchase of 63,422 square feet of development rights and an inclusionary housing zoning bonus of 31,272 square feet, together with $64.575 million in layered mezzanine financing.
Areas of Practice
- Real Estate
- New York
- Brooklyn Law School, J.D.
- California State University, Los Angeles, B.S.
- Association of the Bar of the City of New York
- New York State Bar Association
Selected Speaking Engagements
- "Factors that Led to the Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities Meltdown," Group Discussion on American Business Structure, Jilin University EMBA Overseas Training Program, May 18, 2011
- Opening Remarks, Affordable Housing and Community Development Reception, October 2010
- Speaker, "Government Entitlements, Constraints and Incentives," International Association of Attorneys and Executives in Corporate Real Estate (AECRE), Fall Forum, Chicago, November 21, 2008
- Co-author, "New York City's Sustainable Roof Laws Likely to Increase Construction Costs," Duane Morris Alert, December 19, 2019
Quoted, "Lowe's Ready to put its Stamp on Douglaston Plaza," Queens Weekly, July 15, 2018
Quoted, "Controversial Lowe's Gets Final Approval For Douglaston Plaza," The Patch, July 5, 2018
Quoted, "Lowe's Gets Approval for 100K SF Store at Douglaston Plaza in Queens," The Real Deal, June 28, 2018