Kenneth R. Crystal

Partner New York City

A seasoned real estate and financial services lawyer with a national practice and deep connections in New York City, Ken has built a reputation with his clients for getting the deal done.

Ken’s clients range from Fortune 100 automotive manufacturers, global financial institutions and luxury fashion retailers to companies establishing their first presence in New York City. He focuses on commercial real estate, including real estate leasing, finance, development and construction, restructurings, and sales and acquisitions of retail spaces, manufacturing and mixed-use facilities, office buildings, hotel properties, residential developments and shopping centers.

Ken routinely works with office tenants and landlords in connection with multi-story office buildings and office towers. He has helped resolve issues, including specialty HVAC, generator and fire suppression systems designed to protect various artistic media, insurance issues and disputes with contractors. He also handles ground leasing environmentally distressed properties, including issues relating to compliance with federal and state environmental laws, abatement of underground storage tanks (USTs), ground water issues and issues relating to soil contaminants.

Ken has counseled the construction departments of clients with respect to architectural agreements, general contractor and subcontractor agreements, allocation of build-out responsibility, land use and zoning approvals, and overseas fabrication of point-of-purchase and sign fixtures.

His work with clients has included training in-house real estate personnel with respect to transactions such as estoppel requests, non-disturbance agreements, storage agreements and temporary licenses, creation of standard forms of lease abstracts, establishment of procedures for review and processing of leases, insurance coverages and risk management.

Ken also assists clients related to a variety of disputes, including rent arbitrations, gross sales and CAM audits; construction disputes, including mechanic’s lien issues, warranty claims and construction delays; items of additional rent and other charges; zoning and licensing issues, default notices and obtaining landlord’s consent to transfers. Ken also has specific experience dealing with allocation of environmental remediation responsibility and responding to “Yellowstone” injunctions.


Honors & Awards

  • PoliticsNY & amNY Metro Power Players in Real Estate, 2024
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America®

Education & Admissions

  • Boston University School of Law, J.D., 1980
  • New York University School of Law, LL.M., Taxation, 1985
  • State University of New York at Binghamton, B.S., 1977
Admitted to Practice
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Massachusetts


Representative Matters
  • Represent governmental economic development authority in connection with the ground lease for a $250,000,000 conversion and development of an historic theatre in Upper Manhattan into a mixed-use residential and hotel complex with a cultural center and event space.
  • Represented major international financial institution in the sale of its Manhattan regional headquarters and the separate leaseback of space for retail banking, back-office operations, short-term office and long-term office use. Issues included emergency backup generators, 24-hour services, building security, expansion and contraction rights.
  • Represented the investment wing of a global financial institution in the acquisition of a to-be-built trophy office building in Midtown Manhattan, including the acquisition, construction monitoring, retention of a property manager, retention of a leasing agent, lease up and operational issues.
  • Represented internationally known manufacturer of fashion accessories in numerous leases with major regional and local shopping centers, urban retail locations and Canadian properties.
  • Represented an international bank in the sale of several hundred owned and leased properties in multiple tranches to several financial institutions.

Speaking Engagements

View All
  • Presenter, “Reopening Safely: Regulations, Guidelines and Strategies,” COVID-19 Comeback Series, Phillips Lytle Webinar, May 2020

Activities & Professional Associations

Present Activities

  • International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), Editorial Board of Retail Law Strategist
  • Mortgage Bankers Association

Past Activities

  • The Real Estate Board of New York, Inc.

Professional Associations

  • American Bar Association
    • Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section
    • Senior Lawyers Division
  • Florida Bar Association
  • New York State Bar Association
    • Real Property Law Section

Articles & Publications


  • Co-Author, “US Regional Real Estate – New York,” Chambers Global Practice Guide, May 2023
  • Co-Author, “US Regional Real Estate – New York,” Chambers Global Practice Guide, June 2022
  • Co-Author, “US Regional Real Estate – New York,” Chambers Global Practice Guide, May 2021
  • Co-Author “USA Regional Real Estate – New York,” Chambers Global Practice Guide, May 2020
  • Co-Author, “USA Regional Real Estate – New York,” Chambers Global Practice Guide, June 2019
  • Co-Author, “Regional Real Estate, New York – Law and Practice,” Chambers Global Practice Guides, June 2018