NEW YORK - VIPs cut the ribbon Monday on One Vanderbilt, the second-tallest office building in NYC. It rises 1401 feet, towering above iconic Midtown neighbors the Chrysler and MetLife buildings, and Grand Central Terminal.
"It's a reminder of the strength of New York City, it's a reminder of our resiliency, said Mayor Bill de Blasio at the ribbon cutting.
"Whether it is the pandemic or the economic crunch, this is a huge celebration right here on 42nd street and it really is the future of New York City in more ways that we can ever list," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer
It's an "an homage to New York's greatness: past, present and future," said Marc Holliday, Chairman and CEO of SL Green, thanking the "100 percent unionized workforce" as "the credit makers, not the credit takers."
Last week, construction workers finished four years of labor and decades of planning. It was 21 years ago SL Green Realty Corp. started buying the first of the four properties they combined to assemble the site.
The reason they were able to build so high above the ground is because of what they did below ground.
They basically bought 700 feet of air rights for $220 million in subway improvements.
"The reveal will be the interconnection to Grand Central," said Chief Operating Officer of SL Green Realty Corp. Ed Piccinich.
People will be able to walk underground from One Vanderbilt to Grand Central Terminal. The connection will include a direct link to the new Long Island Rail Road Terminal, known as the East Side Access, that's being built beneath Grand Central.
“What we were able to do is extend East Side Access through the footprint of One Vanderbilt and create a direct subway connection from East Side Access to the 4, 5, 6, 7 and Shuttle, so all of those East Side Access riders didn’t have to go into Grand Central,” explained SL Green Realty Corp. Managing Director Robert Schiffer.
But strapped for cash because of COVID-19, the MTA may delay the opening of the new terminal beyond 2022.
Pandemic-related construction delays pushed back One Vanderbilt’s ribbon cutting by about a month and dashed this year’s leasing target by ten percent.
“We were striving to be about 80 percent in a pre-COVID and, as result, post-COVID we’re shooting to be 72 percent,” said Piccinich.
The building is 67 percent leased now and SL Green wants office workers to feel safe coming back.
Ultraviolet light will sanitize air in filtration units and automatic thermal imaging will scan a hundred visitors a minute to pick out anyone with a fever. By using an app, workers won’t have to touch anything to get to their office.
Tenants like TD Bank and The Carlyle Group could move in as soon as November.
The $3 billion building is SL Green’s biggest in its 40 year history.
“This is our mark, our major development,” said Piccinich.
Opening now, during the pandemic, arguably the biggest crisis for office occupancy in modern history.