Inside SL Green’s One Vanderbilt, a test case for Midtown East

REIT held grand opening ceremony on Monday

One of New York City’s biggest office projects has officially debuted — and may serve as a test case for the broader transformation of its surrounding neighborhood.

On Monday, SL Green Realty, along with its partners, the National Pension Service of Korea and Hines, unveiled the 1,401-foot-tall One Vanderbilt to the public. The office tower is one of the marquee projects of Midtown East , which was rezoned in 2017; at least four other major office towers are planned as part of that effort. The rezoning of One Vanderbilt’s site was approved ahead of the broader neighborhood change.

The Real Deal sat down with SL Green’s Steve Durels and Robert Schiffer to discuss the tower’s opening. The interview took place on the skyscraper’s not-yet-leased 54th floor, which offers a striking, up-close view of the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building.

One Vanderbilt, whose anchor tenant is TD Bank, is roughly 70 percent leased, according to Durels, director of leasing and real property. He said the company is actively negotiating deals for two more floors in the building.

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He said that while prospective tenants, as with any crisis, have been “on the defensive” during the pandemic, they haven’t sought to chip away at long-term rent obligations.

“There’s no question that with the disruption in the marketplace, tenants are expecting some shift in economics,” he said. “But what we’ve seen is less push on the face rents and more demand for greater concessions, translating into more tenant improvement allowance, more free rents.”

Construction on the project had been ahead of schedule, so the project’s timeline wasn’t too disrupted when work was partially shut down during the pandemic, Durels said. The tower’s opening was delayed by three weeks.

Write to Kathryn Brenzel at