SL Green Realty Corp. – One Vanderbilt

SL Green pic

Photo credit Max Touhey

SL Green’s latest project will be one of New York City’s tallest buildings.
By Alan Dorich, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media

When SL Green Realty Corp. develops a property, it creates spaces that can be home to more than one industry. “We make investments that make sense,” Chief Operating Officer Edward V. Piccinich declares. “That mitigates risk at the end of the day.”

The company’s portfolio includes spaces with tenants from a variety of industries including finance, insurance, legal, technology, media and healthcare. “We have a little bit of them all,” he says. “Ensuring that you have a diverse tenant base is an important strategy.”

 

SL Green’s latest project, One Vanderbilt, will reflect that diversity. Located near Grand Central Terminal in New York City, “We are building what will be the second tallest building in the city,” Piccinich says, adding that the structure will stand 1,401 feet with 58 stories.

The developer already has tenants who have committed to space in One Vanderbilt, including TD Bank N.A., which will anchor approximately 200,000 square feet of space. DZ Bank, and its affiliate, DVB Bank, will have offices on its 26th floor, giving it 35,000 square feet. Finally, Greenberg Traurig, one of the world’s top law firms, is relocating its head offices to One Vanderbilt where it will be taking four floors.

World-renowned Chef Daniel Boulud will have an 11,000-square foot restaurant in the skyscraper as well. “There is more to come,” Piccinich adds. “We feel very confident with the pace of our leasing program with presentations to prospective tenants every day and heavy interest remains high.”

On the Block

SL Green underwent a long process before starting construction on One Vanderbilt. “It took over a decade to assemble the site,” Piccinich recalls, noting that the company first acquired two buildings, 317 Madison in 2001, followed by 331 Madison in 2007.

But after those two acquisitions, “We quickly identified real development opportunity with the entire block,” he says, adding that SL Green ultimately acquired a total of four buildings that covered 800,000 square feet. “We are transforming an entire city block with one tower majestically rising up to the sky.” sl green box

Demolition started on the project in 2015, and the site was brought to street level within a year. But before construction started, “We had an epic groundbreaking ceremony,” Piccinich says, adding that Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city council were in attendance to usher in the first project and capitalize on the re-zoning of the Vanderbilt corridor.

The project will be completed in September 2020. “We have a tremendous team in place on the project and everyone’s focused on that date,” he says, noting that the building will begin turning space over to tenants in September 2019.

Making Its Mark

Hines is serving as the development manager on One Vanderbilt, and AECOM Tishman is constructing the project. The general contractor previously served SL Green on 1551 Broadway in Times Square and 180 Broadway, a dormitory project in lower Manhattan. “We’re very confident in having them as our partner,” Piccinich says.

The building, which will cover 1.7 million square feet, will feature work environments with column-free floor plates, floor-to-ceiling windows, and 360-degree views of New York City. “We also have one of the most premier, environmentally designed buildings,” he declares.

One Vanderbilt is achieving this status by going beyond the standards of what is required. “We’re really taking green policy to another level,” he says, explaining that the building will feature air filtration and rain-water reclamation systems.

The building’s design also incorporates natural light, a $30 million co-generation plant and efficient lighting. Piccinich also highlights the building’s 30,000 square foot tenant-only amenity floor with an outdoor terrace overlooking Grand Central Terminal.

“The amenities are a real selling point and are going to go beyond class A [structures],” Piccinich says. “Each and every aspect contributes to the mark it’s going to make on the city skyline.”

SL Green is also making investments beyond the building, including $220 million in public transit improvements that will benefit One Vanderbilt’s tenants and the local community. These include a new transit hall on Vanderbilt Avenue and connections to the Long Island Rail Road “that will reduce the commuting times for Long Island commuters,” he says, noting that work will be completed off site.

“The public transit improvements also include expansions and modifications of stairways and platforms,” he describes. “All of these things are going to alleviate congestion and enhance safety.”

Planning Ahead

AECOM Tishman has coped with the challenge of working around Grand Central Terminal, which nearly a million commuters pass through daily. “It’s the major transit artery for Metro-North, MTA subways 4 5, 6 and 7, and the shuttle to Times Square,” Piccinich says.

This has made it essential for the project team to have the proper construction processes in place, so both workers and  pedestrians are safe.

The site also employs a security staff “so no one can wander in a controlled center,” Piccinich says.

“One Vanderbilt’s complex development program addresses the site’s challenges including its proximity to Grand Central, heavy pedestrian traffic, and underground subway lines,”  Piccinich says. “That in and of itself speaks volumes in terms of the planning that was required.”

Setting the Standard

Based in New York City, SL Green is an S&P 500 REIT that also stands as the largest office landlord in New York City. The company focuses primarily on acquiring and managing commercial properties in Manhattan, and as of December 2017 held interests in 121 Manhattan buildings totaling $50.0 million square feet.

“Our mission is to always generate good cash flow, create value and keep up with the evolving markets,” Piccinich says, noting that SL Green takes pride in developing and repositioning properties that are located in the best spots in Manhattan.

“[We’re] making sure what we build is going to be performance leading,” he says, noting that the company strives to be a leader. “We know our competition better than they know themselves, so we never let our guard down.”

“Not only can we say we’re the biggest, but we’re the best because we set that standard and we demand excellence from all of our people across different segments of the company.”

Piccinich, who has been with SL Green for 16 years, is excited about the future. Not only is the company positioned to continue as a leader, but one with a commitment to social responsibility, including embracing New York City’s carbon challenge.

“We’re going to achieve a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” he reports, adding that the Real Estate Board of New York and Building Owners and Managers Association International often ask it about solar panels.

“They want to talk to us about what we’re doing,” he says. “That’s an underlying indication of how sought after we are.”

 

Truly Green

SL Green Realty Corp. showed its green strength in 2017. “On the sustainability front, we have garnered industry recognition on a local, national and international level,” CEO Marc Holliday said in a statement.

Real Estate Finance & Investment recognized the firm as the “Most Sustainable REIT” and Business Intelligence Group gave it the “2017 Sustainability Award.” The Institute of Real Estate Management also awarded SL Green with its “Corporate Innovation” REME award for its energy management platform.

“Our commitment is unwavering as we certified 50 percent of our owned and managed portfolio under LEED and accounted for 8 percent of all ENERGY STAR labels across Manhattan in 2017 alone,” Holliday added. “Looking at SL Green today, we are confident that we have assembled a resilient and responsible portfolio that generates results and value.”

   

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