NYC council OKs skyscraper near Empire State

NEW YORK: A soaring new office building planned for midtown Manhattan won the approval of the New York City Council on Wednesday, Aug 25 despite objections from the Empire State Building that it will diminish the iconic skyline.

Vornado Realty Trust's proposed 67-story building, known as 15 Penn Plaza, would be built two blocks away and stand nearly as tall as the landmark that has stood largely unobstructed in midtown Manhattan since it was built in 1931.

A Vornado spokesman said the building will be "an outstanding addition to New York's skyline."

The Empire State Building has argued the project would compromise "the very uniqueness of the New York City skyline".

"The Empire State Building is the defining building on the city's skyline, and its single most important landmark."

The Council approved the construction by a vote of 47-1.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg dismissed the Empire State Building's objections.

"Anybody that builds a building in New York City changes its skyline. We don't have to run around to every other owner and apologize," Bloomberg told a news conference on Tuesday.

"One guy owns a building and he'd like to have it be the only tall building. I'm sorry that's not the real world," Bloomberg said.

The Empire State Building was forever etched in pop culture by the 1933 film "King Kong" in which a giant gorilla climbs to the top of the building, and has dominated Manhattan's skyline since its construction when.

It was the city's tallest building until the construction of the World Trade Center in 1970. After the twin towers were destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Empire State Building again held the title of New York's tallest building, but One World Trade Center will be the tallest when completed.

The tower's height was determined by the needs of potential tenants, such as financial services firms that need large, uninterrupted floors to accommodate trading activities, as well as the additional space needs for "green" office design, Greenbaum told the New York City Council zoning committee.

Vornado also said the construction would bring transit improvements including a concourse linking Penn Station to subways and commuter trains, new subway entrances and an expanded subway platform.

Penn Plaza would be 1,190 feet (363 metres) tall, putting it just shy of the Empire State Building's main structure of 1,250 feet (381 metres). The 102-story skyscraper has a 204-foot (62-metre) antenna that puts its peak at 1,454 feet (443 metres). — Reuters
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