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Empire State Building owner tries to block rival tower

The owner of the Empire State Building said the height of a proposed tower near the skyscraper would damage the skyline of New York City.

Anthony Malkin took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times asking the City Council to reject or amend the current proposal for 15 Penn Plaza.

The full City Council is scheduled to vote on the project on Wednesday. The 67-storey tower would rise only 10m less than the Empire State Building.

Malkin told a council zoning committee that his building is the ‘number one favourite building in the US’.

President of the company planning to erect the competitor, David Greenbaum, told the committee that 15 Penn Plaza would provide critically needed office space in mid-town Manhattan. Renderings of the proposed building – designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects – propose a skyscraper shaped like a giant chisel atop a block.

It tapers to a flat edge at the peak and is marked by a top-to-bottom groove on its face.

In a last-ditch effort to change the plans, Malkin appealed to subcommittee members to make 15 Penn Plaza no more than 250m high, about two-thirds of the originally proposed size.

In addition, he asked asked that it be streamlined tominimally obscure the view of the western side of the Empire State Building.

Greenbaum testified that he would work to help improve nearby transportation facilities, including wider rail platforms at Penn Station, one of the world’s busiest rail stations; provide better access to subway stations; and ease pedestrian and traffic congestion in the area, which also includes Macy’s flagship department store.

He also said he would reopen an underground passage connecting nearby subway lines and PATH commuter trains to New Jersey.

The developer has not set a target date for the tower’s construction, saying Vornado needs to wait until it signs a large commercial tenant first.

Malkin said he favours the development of this mid-town Manhattan neighbourhood, but ‘we are concerned about the legacy’ of the Empire State Building.

“We are the stewards of this great icon,” he said.


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