Crain Extra: Steven Roth vs. Stephen Ross
Left: Roth Right: Ross | Bloomberg
Governor Kathy Hochul’s quest to partially fund an overhaul of Penn Station with private money took a big leap last week. His administration has approved plans to add 18 million square feet of office and residential space spread across 10 super-tall towers around the station.
The project is very similar to Hudson Yards, which was developed by The Related Cos., which is run by Stephen Ross. The new mega-project a few blocks east will be developed by Vornado Realty Trust, which is led by Steven Roth. It’s Ross versus Roth! Featured writers of the world, rejoice.
What differentiates Roth’s megaproject from Ross’s is that the latter surrounds Madison Square Garden.
Unless Ross persuades the Garden to move a few blocks west to Hudson Yards. MSG’s operating license with the city will expire next year, and Penn Station will be buried forever until the world famous arena moves. Ross would be a hero in relieving commuters from traversing the dismal basement rail hub.
Related and Madison Square Garden were talking last year about moving the arena. Ross is said to have built a new garden on top of a casino. “We have rejected this proposal,” said an MSG representative.
A city official said Hochul put a stop to MSG-related talks so there were no corporate disputes while she steered her plan to renovate Penn State from authorities. local, state and federal. Chairman Joe Biden, an Amtrak fan, could leave the White House by 2025 and Chuck Schumer may not be Senate Majority Leader in January. The governor has decided that now is the time to extract the most federal dollars to build a worthy Penn Station. Last week, the Empire State Development Corp. gave the go-ahead to the Vornado megaproject, a bet that demand for new office space in Midtown will still be strong when the buildings are ready many years from now.
Now the ball is in Ross’ court. Because Roth has MSG, Vornado’s giant buildings might be more desirable and attract more tenants than Ross’ Hudson Yards.
For potential tenants, the idea of walking a few feet from the office to an NBA game might just seal the deal. Could the still restless Knicks rebound faster than the office market?
This battle of the duel developers must make the Garden very happy. The only thing better than being coveted by a billionaire mogul is being coveted by two billionaire moguls.