Port Authority to Review Tower Plan After Vornado Pulls Out

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will reconsider plans to build a skyscraper over its midtown Manhattan bus terminal after developer Vornado Realty Trust said it won’t proceed with the project.

Board members have expressed “concerns” about plans for a 1.3 million square-foot (121,000-square-meter) tower above the terminal and those issues will be reviewed, Patrick Foye, the agency’s executive director, told reporters today after an authority meeting. He gave no timetable for the assessment.

“The Port Authority’s real estate options with respect to that asset and others have to be explored in depth, and we’re committed to doing that,” Foye said.

The tower was part of more than 25 million square feet of projects in Manhattan either under construction or scheduled to be built by the end of the decade, according to data from brokerage Cassidy Turley. Job cuts at financial-services firms and Europe’s debt crisis have contributed to a slowdown in the real estate market. Manhattan office prices were little changed for a fifth month in October after coming within 18 percent of their mid-2007 peak, Green Street Advisors Inc. said Nov. 4.

Vornado Cancels Plans

Vornado executives informed the Port Authority that it wasn’t ready to move forward with the bus-terminal project, Foye said. The New York-based real estate investment trust, which has stakes in about 19.2 million square feet of Manhattan offices, was considering building the tower before getting tenant commitments, Chairman Steven Roth said in April.

Soho China Ltd., a Beijing-based development firm that planned to be Vornado’s partner on the tower, pulled out of the project, the New York Times reported today, citing Foye. Soho China had planed to put $600 million into the building, according to the newspaper.

Wendi Kopsick, a Vornado spokeswoman, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment. Zhang Xin, Soho China’s chief executive officer, didn’t return an e-mail sent after business hours in China.

“That transaction is important because if consummated, it would provide desperately needed capital to rebuild and expand the bus terminal, as well as generate tax revenue for the city and region, and create jobs,” Foye said after the agency’s meeting today.

The project, called 20 Times Square, was designed by British architectural firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. The bus terminal, which the authority has called the world’s busiest, was completed in 1950 and has footings strong enough to support a skyscraper.

Vornado and partner Lawrence Ruben Co. were selected to build the tower in 1999. It was put on hold in 2003, two years after Cisco Systems Inc. withdrew as its anchor tenant, and was revived in 2008.