One Vanderbilt Avenue opens up in Midtown despite city’s pandemic woes

Mayor Bill de Blasio along with other elected officials and members of SL Green took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony for One Vanderbilt Avenue. The mega tower opened to tenants on Monday. ( Photos by Jacob Kahlin.

New York City’s second-tallest building, One Vanderbilt Avenue, is now open to office tenants.

It took construction workers four years to complete work on the  1.7 million-square-foot skyscraper which soars at 1,401 feet tall at the doorstep of Grand Central Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. Despite the pandemic forcing construction to stop during the spring, the project finished on time, according to 

The city’s largest commercial landlord, developers SL Green, hosted the building’s opening ceremony on Monday and unveiled a $220 million package of public open space and transit infrastructure improvements to help ease congestion and overcrowding on subway platforms below the massive office tower, improve terminal circulation and easier access to regional railway pathways. 

One Vanderbilt is now the new headquarters for many of the top finance, banking, law and real estate firm and about 70% of its space is leased, according to a statement. 

Infrastructure improvements include a new 4,000-square-foot public transit hall inside the tower giving commuters more spacious access to the Metro-North Railroad, the shuttle to Times Square, and the future Long Island Rail Road station as part of the upcoming East Side Access project. Next to the transit hall is a new 14,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza on Vanderbilt Avenue between East 42nd and 43rd Streets.

FILE PHOTO: The 73 story One Vanderbilt office tower, the latest super-tall skyscraper to grace New York’s iconic skyline, is set to open while the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) keeps the largest and richest U.S. office market almost empty, in midtown Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., September 9, 2020. Picture taken September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

SL Green also built two new street-level subway entrances and re-opened the Mobil Passageway that connects Grand Central to a new entrance on the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue.

Developers argue that circulation with the Grand Central subway station has been improved by the development, claiming that there is a 37% increase in mezzanine circulation space and that new staircases between the mezzanine and platform levels of the 4/5/6 and 7 subway lines allow for a more comfortable commute, including a new ADA-compliant escalators and elevators, more turnstiles and gates and new stairs by the shuttle to Times Square. 

Local and state elected officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, state Senator Liz Krueger and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, attended the opening ceremony and following tour. All spoke to how the mega tower’s opening was a hopeful sign of better things to come. 

“We are celebrating something much greater,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This is one of the first and most tangible signs of the rebirth of New York City.” 

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