The Real Deal New York

City could have glut of observatories

Developers hope to use the roof decks as a source of revenue

June 01, 2015 10:32AM

From left: One World Trade Center's observatory entrance and the viewing deck of the Empire State Building

From left: One World Trade Center’s observatory entrance and the viewing deck of the Empire State Building

While developers hope to turn the million dollar views from their buildings’ rooftops into actual revenue, there might not be enough demand for sky-high observatories.

“You could end up with too many observatories and not enough people,” real estate analyst Joseph Reagan told the New York Times.

One World Trade Center opened its sky-high observatory last week and will be competing with the city’s most popular ones, the Empire State Building and the Top of the Rock at 3o Rockefeller Plaza. (Only 13 percent of New York City’s 56 million tourists in 2014 visited these roof decks, according to the Times.)

And more observation desks are joining the fray. One Vanderbilt, the proposed 63-story office tower next to Grand Central Station that was officially approved by the City Council last week, will include an observatory as will a skyscraper at 33rd and 10th Avenue at Hudson Yards.

Extell Development’s Gary Barnett had initially planned to include an observatory in his 1,775-foot tall Nordstrom Tower on West 57th Street, but changed his mind. He told the newspaper he’d rather use the space for apartments.

“You need express elevators, staircases,” Barnett told the newspaper. “It costs you square footage on every floor.” [NYT]Claire Moses