Health insurer takes 70k sf for HQ in Vornado’s One Penn Plaza

Empire BlueCross BlueShield paying $90 per square foot

Vornado CEO Steven Roth and One Penn Plaza (Vornado Realty Trust)
Vornado CEO Steven Roth and One Penn Plaza (Vornado Realty Trust)

A major health insurance tenant is setting up shop at Vornado Realty Trust’s One Penn Plaza, a major Midtown office and a key part of Steven Roth’s portfolio.

Empire BlueCross BlueShield opened its headquarters, occupying 70,000 square feet, Crain’s reported. The asking rent was $90 per square foot.

The insurance company moved from a temporary space at 14 Wall Street in the Financial District. Company president Alan Murray touted the “hybrid office environment” accommodated in its new space.

As part of the opening, Empire is reportedly announcing a grant for Breaking Ground, the city’s largest provider of street outreach and permanent supportive housing for those dealing with chronic unsheltered homelessness.

One Penn Plaza stands 57 stories tall and spans 2.5 million square feet. Vornado recently made changes to the property, renovating the lobby and exterior of the building at a cost of $200 million.

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Vornado founder Steve Roth and Industrious co-founder Jamie Hodari (Credit: Getty Images)
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Industrious to take 100K sf at Vornado’s One Penn Plaza

In 2020, flexible-workspace company Industrious made plans to open a 100,000-square-foot space at the bottom of the renovated building. The space is split between 80,000 square feet of flexible office space and 20,000 square feet of conference and event space.

Roth’s REIT is at a pivotal moment in terms of trying to develop a massive office campus surrounding Penn Station. Vornado is expected to develop five of the eight Penn District sites slate for 10 towers, potentially reaping lucrative tax benefits in the process.

The current plan around Penn would result in 18 million square feet of new development, most of which would likely be built by Vornado without needing the air rights from Madison Square Garden. Vornado is also in the process of demolishing the Hotel Pennsylvania at Seventh Avenue and West 33rd Street, a redevelopment that came with a promise of public improvements.

[Crain’s] — Holden Walter-Warner