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Old August 18th, 2010, 05:35 PM   #301
RobertWalpole
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http://www.observer.com/2010/real-es...ays-observer-0

Defending the Empire: The Campaign Against the Empire State Building's Giant Neighbor to the West
By Eliot Brown
August 17, 2010 | 7:35 p.m



This past spring, Anthony Malkin, president of Malkin Properties and an owner of the Empire State Building, started paying attention to an office tower planned by Vornado Realty Trust. The giant office landlord was seeking approvals to build a tower up to 1,216 feet high two blocks to his building's west, on what's now the site of the Hotel Pennsylvania, at 33rd Street and Seventh Avenue.

The tower's height, to Mr. Malkin, was worrisome, so he researched the issue and fired off a letter to the City Planning Commission, raising concerns about the effect it would have on views of the landmarked Empire State Building. The letter had no impact: The commission voted to approve Vornado's tower without major changes.

Now, with the skyscraper poised to clear a final hurdle before a key City Council committee next week, Mr. Malkin is rushing to round up critics of the tower—and supporters of the Empire State Building's unique place in the skyline—in an attempt to urge the Council or Vornado to scale back.

And while many civic groups and elected officials have generally been supportive of the new tower so far, Mr. Malkin has caught at least a bit of traction: On Tuesday, the New York Landmarks Conservancy decided to speak out about the tower on account of the effect on the Empire State Building; and other civic groups are considering similar actions.

"What this does to New York City, we think, is wrong," Mr. Malkin told The Observer Tuesday. "It just boggles the mind that people would allow this to be done to the skyline of New York City. Is this our persona: cold; impersonal?"



FOR EIGHT DECADES, the Empire State Building has dominated the public's perception of New York City's skyline. Not only is the Art Deco tower the city's tallest, but its aesthetic supremacy is compounded by its location: At 34th Street, it is south of the skyscraper fray of central midtown, making it a tree amid the plains of midtown south.

Two blocks west and one block south, Vornado—an office space titan headed by its forceful, Bronx-raised chairman, Steve Roth—has its own vision for the skyline, and it's somewhat different. For more than a decade, Mr. Roth has been scooping up property after property around Penn Station, guided by the hope that when New York grows and needs new sites for office towers, they will blossom around the country's largest rail hub.

Mr. Malkin is not one to bite his tongue: He fought with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in June over his refusal to honor Mother Teresa by lighting the Empire State Building for what would be her 100th birthday.

Chief in this vision is a would-be office tower to rise in place of the cramped and dingy Hotel Pennsylvania—a Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed skyscraper that would, as currently envisioned, rise from a boxy base like a slightly tapering glass obelisk, soaring to 1,216 feet (or 1,190 feet, under a second design). Given that this would put it just 34 feet shy of the Empire State Building's peak (the antenna is not counted in the height), the tower, named 15 Penn Plaza, would be a formidable visual rival from afar and on postcards.

Hence Mr. Malkin's apprehension.

Mr. Malkin, the scion of a four-generation real estate empire, is not one to bite his tongue. He got into a public spat with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in June when he refused to honor Mother Teresa by lighting the Empire State Building for what would be her 100th birthday. Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal quoted him as calling green-design standards "bullshit" for being too lax. And, in 2007, with landlord Douglas Durst, he took out newspaper ads that publicly criticized the state for building the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center, a move akin to a campaign his grandfather Lawrence Wein led with Mr. Durst's father when the original twin towers were planned (those towers bested the Empire State Building as the city's tallest).

He first came to be involved with 15 Penn Plaza when Vornado began shepherding the plans for the tower through the city's seven-month-long public-approval process, which concludes with the vote by the City Council this month. The size of the tower caught him off-guard, he said. He began to round up consultants and push for changes, including at the City Planning Commission, given that such a building so close by would significantly change the skyline.

"We're not talking about preventing tall buildings in New York," Mr. Malkin said. "The question here is this tall building here in New York, being approximately 800, 900 feet away from the Empire State Building, crowding the distinctive skyline of the city."

He is no fan of the design—he likened it to "an undersea ICBM"—and sees a decision on the tower as a historic one, saying it is "akin to the loss of Penn Station."

As for what's driving Mr. Malkin, it seems to be a transparent self-interest. He views himself as a guardian of his building's place in the skyline, and, as such, he is protective of anything that might encroach on that. If there are financial motivations-and Mr. Malkin says there are not-they are not obvious (although he has raised concerns that the new skyscraper would interfere with his building's radio tower). The Vornado tower and the Empire State Building would compete for two different types of tenants; namely, those willing to pay high rents for modern space at the Vornado tower (banks and the like), and those who can't. Tenants at the Empire State Building include the FDIC and nonprofits like Human Rights Watch, for instance.

CAMPAIGNS AGAINST MAJOR towers are ingrained in the history of New York, of course, but rarely are they led—or even participated in—by major landlords. Typically, it is the local residents who put landlords on the defensive, often using many of the same tactics as Mr. Malkin (appealing to civic groups; faulting the environmental review; making renderings to illustrate a proposed building's effects). But unlike the typical Upper West Side renter concerned about a new condo tower across the street, he has a bit more of a platform on which to stand.

Further, Mr. Malkin's argument is not without precedent, at least if one is to look at the model set by the Bloomberg administration last year, when the City Planning Commission chopped 200 feet off the height of the 1,250-foot-tall, Jean Nouvel-designed tower next to MoMA. The reasoning, from the Planning Commission, was that the design for the tower's top was not shown to merit "being in the zone of the Empire State Building's iconic spire."

"It's hard to understand how City Planning could say that 15 Penn Plaza would have no impact on the Empire State Building when they already lowered a proposed 53rd Street building for that very reason," said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, who added that her group does not oppose development on the Hotel Pennsylvania. "We would urge the Council to look at the discretionary waivers and bonuses this proposal has received."

The local community board has been critical of the Vornado plan, and opposed it on a number of grounds. And the powerful hotel workers' union has been concerned with the plans for the tower, given that it would involve shuttering the giant Hotel Pennsylvania.

Of course, this is all coming quite late in the process, so much so that it's hard to see how it would have much of an effect, especially when the tower has received support from some civic groups and the borough president. The clock is ticking, with the City Council vote scheduled for next week, and strong opposition movements take time, particularly when heated opposition did not form sooner in the process.

And Mr. Malkin's earlier tiff with Ms. Quinn, the Council speaker, over Mother Teresa's birthday can't help, as the tower sits in her district.

That said, the proposed tower may, in the end, simply prove to be theoretical. Vornado is by no means ready to demolish the Hotel Pennsylvania, a property that, despite its less-than-rave reviews, was minting cash for the company when room rates were high in 2007 and 2008.

Further, Vornado has said it is only moving ahead with the rezoning now to have the option for building the tower at some later date, if and when it finds an anchor tenant. The firm declined to comment on Mr. Malkin's criticism.

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Old August 18th, 2010, 06:03 PM   #302
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that tower's beautiful!!!
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Old August 18th, 2010, 11:41 PM   #303
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ESB's paid professional NIMBYs are now targeting 15 Penn with photoshopped skyline images:

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/0...renderings.php

Total put-up job.
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Old August 19th, 2010, 12:04 AM   #304
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Obviously, these are not official renderings. The render does not taper like Vornado's render does, and they're offered by opponents of the new tower. Nonetheless, it gives perspective on the skyline.




Last edited by RobertWalpole; August 19th, 2010 at 01:26 AM.
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Old August 19th, 2010, 01:41 AM   #305
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LOL, it's going to ruin all those exclusive cemetery views!
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Old August 19th, 2010, 06:11 AM   #306
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Are they serious?

I've been waiting for somebody to finally hide the ESB, and these NIMBYs are complaining?
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Old August 19th, 2010, 09:50 AM   #307
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Those renders obviously make 15 Penn Plaza deliberately ugly compared to the official renders. Pretty low. The people behind them wouldn't be out of place in a Richard Nixon campaign team.

In reality, old style and new style can work very well together. Just look at the traditional pagoda-style Jin Mao Building next to the sleek modern SWFC.
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Old August 19th, 2010, 07:15 PM   #308
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It will block NJ's view of the building. So they should build it somewhere else. NJ property values will sink in some areas if this blocks the ESB.
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Old August 19th, 2010, 07:54 PM   #309
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertWalpole View Post
Obviously, these are not official renderings. The render does not taper like Vornado's render does, and they're offered by opponents of the new tower. Nonetheless, it gives perspective on the skyline.



I really like this though.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 11:53 AM   #310
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I agree with the nimbys. I think this tower is not special enough for Midtown Manhattan and it is too fat. Midtown deserves only the highest quality and preferably slender towers
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Old August 20th, 2010, 04:31 PM   #311
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexis View Post
It will block NJ's view of the building. So they should build it somewhere else. NJ property values will sink in some areas if this blocks the ESB.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 04:56 PM   #312
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What I don't get is that if the city's growing, eventually the ESB is going to be hidden. At that point, it'll be a hidden jewel, sort of like the Chrysler is to those coming from the Jersey side.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 05:53 PM   #313
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I hope that the ESB is never hidden because that would mean that stunning, pre-WWII buildings that surround it would be razed. I hope that does not happen.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 06:24 PM   #314
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In addition to 15 Penn, Vornado plans two other very tall towers for the MSG site. One will be over 300m.

Moynihan Station air rights up for grabs
August 19, 2010 12:00PM

Moynihan Station: The state and the city have re-entered negotiations with Vornado Realty Trust and the Related Companies over the sale of 1 million square feet of air rights for the new Moynihan Station, according to Tim Gilchrist, the new president of the Moynihan Station Development Corp. The developers entered into an agreement with the state in 2006 to develop the Farley Post Office into a new train station and to use the air rights to build an adjacent mixed-use development topped by a 67-story tower, Crain's reported. But the plan, which included $110 million from the sale of the air rights, was never approved by the Public Authorities Control Board. Instead, the recession forced the state to split the development into two phases. Eventually, federal stimulus funding provided the final $83 million needed to build the $267 million first phase. The initial construction contracts were approved Monday, and now attention is turning to funding the $1 billion second phase.The Farley building -- which occupies the square block between 31st and 33rd streets and Eighth and Ninth avenues -- comes with 2.5 million square feet of transferable air rights. Related and Vornado have dibs on the first 1 million square feet, but the remaining 1.5 million are up for grabs. The agreement that gives Related and Vornado exclusive development rights expires in 2012. [Crain's]

One will rise on the southwest corner of 7th and W34th where the Footaction and Torneau stores are located.



The other will rise where this one-story Duane Reade is located, which is on the southeast corner of 34th and 8th.

Last edited by RobertWalpole; August 20th, 2010 at 07:14 PM.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 08:39 PM   #315
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Oh Lordy, Here Comes The Post!

From The NY Post:

Quote:
Why landmark's team is getting all high & mighty

Posted: 12:51 AM, August 20, 2010
Steve Cuozzo

The Empire State Building's owners sure have chutzpah. The guys who won't light up their landmark for Mother Teresa want a holy dispensation to prevent a new nearby skyscraper from cramping its style. They're seething because a new tower to be built by Vornado Realty Trust two blocks away will mess up views of, and from, the Empire State.

But there's nothing sacrosanct about office workers' window views. The Empire State has a slightly stronger case when it comes to the way the beloved landmark is perceived from the outside. It's always enjoyed an unchallenged skyline profile thanks to the fact that no building south of 42nd Street is remotely as tall.

The Vornado project would change that. The Empire State's Hail Mary play is a plea to the City Council, which will probably bless the scheme anyway. You can't blame Tony Malkin & Co. for trying. They've spent more than a half-billion bucks recently to bring the Empire State into the modern age.

Why, now that the iconic edifice is finally on sound commercial footing, should it have to share the sky with a bulkier but lesser neighbor two blocks away and nearly as tall? Well, Manhattan's a genetically high-rise place. New office towers sometimes spoil iconic parts of the skyline. It's sad but unavoidable on a narrow island where the world's most important business district is scrunched into a few square miles. Boxy structures long ago smothered downtown's "wedding cake" profile. The Pan Am Building (now MetLife) eclipsed the great Helmsley Building at its foot.

Maybe 15 Penn Plaza could use a little pruning -- which Vornado boss Steve Roth is unlikely to accept, since he's pledged $100 million in subway-station improvements in exchange for his brainchild's height and bulk. But Vornado can't build it without a big tenant like a bank -- meaning it would bring oodles of tax revenue and high-paying jobs to a rundown, underutilized Midtown precinct.

The price might well be the loss of the Empire State's solitary splendor. But it will still be as magnificent and unique as ever. Just choose your view of it a little more carefully.



Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/m...#ixzz0xAWlOSsf
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Old August 20th, 2010, 09:16 PM   #316
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I wouldn't mind ESB being taken over in height or blocked from view (partially) by new towers.
It's just a fact of life that towers eventually will be surpassed by new ones.
Do not halt or restrict the development of neighboring areas for sentimental reasons.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 09:59 PM   #317
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Hardly anything is being said about them demolishing the newly renovated 1700 room Hotel Pennsylvania. Would be a huge mistake to lose such an historic hotel that allows budget travelers to stay in the heart of midtown. Nearby hotels are at least 40% more expensive. Put this useless monstrosity downtown, where it belongs.

Closing the sidewalk on the busiest street section in nyc outside of times sq across from a national travel hub and a massive tourist destination is a disaster waiting to happen, and the wind tunnel effect and reflected light and just no, it doesnt fit here.

As far as other buildings being built in the vicinity i doubt it, this area has serious problems with wind at street level all ready, building more towers is just going to make it worse. If you're wondering what i men by "serious", several times a year there is a standing 30 mph flow of air, usually west to east, with gusts up to 60 mph, and if you walk away from the edge of the building the air is basically calm.

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Old August 20th, 2010, 10:00 PM   #318
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Double rainbow, i mean post, sorry.

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Old August 20th, 2010, 10:11 PM   #319
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Offereins View Post
I wouldn't mind ESB being taken over in height or blocked from view (partially) by new towers.
It's just a fact of life that towers eventually will be surpassed by new ones.
Do not halt or restrict the development of neighboring areas for sentimental reasons.
I'm actually all for view corridors but that's something you do before you sign deals with developers to provide millions for subways or whatever. If NYC didn't plan adequately for views of the ESB, tough sh*t.
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Old August 20th, 2010, 10:14 PM   #320
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This looks like it could fit well in lower manhatten not that it doesn't looks good where its already is going to be
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