The NYC ‘office apocalypse’ has a developer mulling tennis courts where it had planned a 61-floor skyscraper



Vornado Realty Trust is considering tennis courts for the US Open as a temporary replacement for a skyscraper near Madison Square Garden, as the real estate developer copes with what its chief executive called an “office apocalypse.”

The area where the 61-floor office tower in Manhattan was planned could also become the site of basketball courts, New York Fashion Week or even a giant billboard that’s 150 feet (46 meters) tall by 197 feet wide, according to an online promotional brochure.

The new office tower was set to replace Hotel Pennsylvania, which was shut during the pandemic and demolished. But Vornado put the tower plan on hold along with parts of the massive redevelopment plan to remake Penn Station last year after high interest rates and the shift to working from home triggered a crisis in the commercial real estate market.

Read More: Billionaire Steven Roth’s Manhattan Bet Battered by Office Woes

A Vornado spokesperson said the renderings in the presentation were for “conceptual purposes.”

“We are currently considering a number of potential interim options for the Hotel Pennsylvania site,” the spokesperson said.

Crain’s New York previously reported on the brochure.

There’s a “total blacklisting of office in the capital markets,” Chief Executive Officer Steven Roth said on an earnings call earlier this week, leading to an “office apocalypse” in the central business district. He said the site where the tower was planned, known as PENN 15, is now fully flattened.

If Vornado’s new plans are in line with existing permits known as a general project plan, they could move quickly, said Casey Berkovitz, press secretary at the Department of City Planning. “It makes sense that in the short term they’d want to do something to the space,” he said.

The brochure states that the flattened space offers a “diverse range of scenarios for brand activations and events,” including “basketball activation with NCAA-sized courts, a tennis brand, a large covered tent setup or an outdoor concert venue.

— With assistance from Katherine Chiglinsky

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