New York has long celebrated a skyline among the most famous in the world, but views of its crowning glory – the Empire State Building – are now under threat.
Developer Vornado Realty Trust has won the approval of New York City Council to change zoning and land use restrictions on a site two city blocks away, clearing the way to begin construction of a new 1,190-foot tower.
An artist’s impression of the new development
Provisionally entitled 15 Penn Plaza, the new property could potentially block views of New York’s most famous landmark – much to the chagrin of the owners of the Empire State Building.
Owner Anthony Malkin had argued the new building would ruin the “uniqueness” of the city’s skyline, branding the new development an “assault on New York City and its iconography”.
However, his views appear to have fallen on deaf ears, with the council voting 47-1 in favour of the proposed development – with only Brooklyn Democrat Charles Barron opposed.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg also backed the project, dismissing Mr Malkin’s as delusional.
“Anybody that builds a building in New York City changes its skyline — we don’t have to run around to every other owner and apologise,” he told reporters.
“One guy owns a building, he’d like to have it be the only tall building — I’m sorry, that’s not the real world.”
While no date has been set for construction to begin on the Vornado project, plans envision a 67-story office tower two blocks west of the Empire State Building.
Also included in the plans are wider rail platforms at nearby Pennsylvania Station, better access to subway stations and the reopening of an underground passage connecting nearby subway lines and commuter trains to New Jersey.
Vornado added the proposals would create 7,000 new jobs in New York, along with a $3.3 billion economic impact and much-needed midtown office space
The Empire State Building – originally built in 1930 - stands at 102 stories and 1,454 feet but has an 86th-floor observation deck about 1,050 feet above ground.
The project remains in the design phase.