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    New Skyscraper to Rival Empire State Building

    The City Council approved on Wednesday afternoon the construction of a tower near Pennsylvania Station that will rise to within 34 feet in height of the nearby Empire State Building, inserting a glassy rival virtually next door to what has been the defining element of the city’s skyline.

    The owners of the Empire State Building had begun a fierce public relations, advertising and lobbying campaign to stop the building, saying it would damage the skyline and the Empire State Building’s revered status. They even proposed the creation of a three-quarter-mile zone around 34th Street and 5th Avenue inside which no comparable structure could be erected.

    But the Council rejected the owners’ arguments, and was won over by the agreement by the developer of the new building, the Vornado Realty Trust, to spend up to $100 million on Penn Station improvements, and by their own desire to promote development close to major transit hubs.

    The owners of the 1,250-foot Empire State Building had waged a war hoping to persuade the Council to preserve their building’s solo spot on the horizon.

    But the Council gave that argument scant attention Wednesday, as the zoning and land use committees and later the full Council voted to approve the project, on Seventh Avenue across from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station.

    Some critics, like Councilman Al Vann and Councilman Charles Barron, the lone dissenter in a 47-1 vote, criticized Vornado for not guaranteeing more employment on the construction project for women and minorities.

    The proposed tower, which both sides acknowledged may never win a beauty contest, would be built on a large parcel currently occupied by the Hotel Pennsylvania.


    Originally written by CHARLES V. BAGLI at New York Times, with emphasis by FutureTransport.

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