One Vanderbilt open for business. Note the horizontal terra cotta panels.

The 1,401-foot-tall One Vanderbilt is officially open after the pandemic put off the ribbon cutting by a mere month.

“This is a powerful moment. Because it’s a reminder of the strength of New York City, it’s a reminder of our resiliency and where we are going in the future,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was among those wielding a two-foot long inscribed scissors to cut the sky blue ribbon.   

The ribbon was cut and confetti poppers made a mess
Commemoration scissors 9.14.20

“The winding down and the restarting of the project took a toll on everybody,” noted Marc Holliday, chief executive of the developer SL Green Realty Corp.

SL Green’s development odyssey included the purchase of the entire rag tag block of buildings bounded by Madison and Vanderbilt avenues, East 42nd and 43rd streets, navigating a lawsuit over air rights and agreeing to spend $220 million on underground connections between One Vanderbilt and GCT that will include pathways to subway trains, Metro North and soon, the East Side Access area of the Long Island Railroad.

SLG brought in partners Hines and the National Pension Service of Korea while both Holliday and SLG President Andrew Mathias added funds of their own to support the project. “We never wavered, ignoring all the naysayers, believing in the power of this city and the importance of this vision,” Holliday added. 

For this occasion, social distancing rules meant the developers had to divide guests onto two upper floors along with the new, ground level pedestrian plaza on Vanderbilt Ave. across from Grand Central Terminal. Both pols and participants wore masks and everyone strained to both identify and hear each other. Guests were provided a One Vanderbilt shaped lapel pen which the Mayor later sported.

Mayor de Blasio sporting a One Vanderbilt lapel pin

Speakers included the MTA’s Janno Lieber; Council Member Keith Powers; Borough President Gale Brewer; Kyle Bragg the president of the building workers of SEIU 32-bj; and Chef Daniel Boulud whose restaurant, “Le Pavillon” will grace the second floor in early 2021. The Chef has also been involved in SLG’s extensive efforts to feed New Yorkers during the coronavirus shut-downs. 

Kyle Bragg the president of the building workers of SEIU 32-bj

Chef Daniel Boulud

SLG Chairman Marc Holliday, Chef Daniel Boulud and Mayor de Blasio

Topped by its stunning, twisting glass top and spire, One Vanderbilt “connects to the sky” and was designed by Kohn Pederson Fox with glass and creamy terra cotta panels while much of its steel came from recycled products.

KPF’s president and design principal, James von Klemperer, noted One Vanderbilt “refers and gestures” to Grand Central Terminal, “the mothership and the greatest transportation hall in the world.” 

Gene Kohn, chairman of KPF was among others in attendance that included SLG’s founder and former chairman Stephen L. Green and his wife, Nancy Peck; Alfred “Fred” Cerullo of the Grand Central Partnership; Carlo Scissura of the Building Congress; Deputy Mayor Vicki Been; District 4 Council Member Keith Powers, former district 4 Council Member Dan Garodnick, now with the Riverside Park Conservancy.

Fred Cerullo, Gale Brewer, Keith Powers and Dan Garodnick

SLG Founder and former Chairman Stephen L. Green and his wife, Nancy Peck


SLG Executives COO Edward Piccinich and President Andrew Mathias
SLG COO Edward Piccinich and Carlo Scissura, president & CEO of the Building Congress

The new, 14,000 square-foot pedestrian plaza was among the transit improvements contributed by and constructed by the developers. The plaza sits between the new tower and Grand Central Terminal and is bounded by East 42nd and East 43rd streets. Designed by PWP Landscape Architecture it now has large circular planters filled with flowers and trees – but could easily be planted with a bomb under the leafy greens. Indeed, a bomb dog was on duty checking out visitors to the new 77-story tower. 

SLG Chairman Marc Holliday speaking as guests socially distanced and watched video by the new planters.
A bomb sniffing dog is often on duty around Grand Central Terminal

There are also underground connections to Grand Central and soon, the East Side Access to the Long Island Railroad. During an underground tour, Mayor de Blasio’s head nearly touched the glass panels hanging from the ceilings in front of some of the stairways and escalators. “We are bringing it up three inches,” an SLG executive said of the panels as the Mayor ducked and posed for photos.  

Mayor de Blasio’s head nearly touched the glass panels hanging from the ceilings in front of some of the stairways and escalators.

Anchor tenant TD Bank’s 318,000 square feet is now ready for its build-out, said bank President and CEO Greg Braca, calling their lease a “long-term commitment to New York City.” The bank had previously relinquished its branch to allow the demolition of the smaller and older office building at 317 Madison and will now get a branch along with its office space. 

TD Bank’s President and CEO Greg Braca

The lobby has white marble columns and soaring ceilings and includes a video art panel and sculptures that will bend your selfie.  

shimmering reflective sculptures in the lobby of One Vanderbilt with the Chrysler Building peeking over Grand Central Terminal
Selfies are psychedelic when taken in the reflective sculptures

Along with TD Bank, the tenant roster includes The Carlyle Group, KPS Capital Partners, Oak Hill Advisors, InTandem Capital, SageWind Capital and Sentinel Capital Partners; the law firms Greenberg Traurig and McDermott Will & Emery; global German financial firm DZ Bank; MFA Financial Inc.; and SL Green Realty Corp. itself.

DZ Bank had leased on a lower floors and recently added their space to the sublease market but is now negotiating to move to a higher floor, an SL Green executive said after BTB asked. In October, the real estate capital market advisor, Hodges Ward Elliott, recently signed a 12,692 square-foot, lease for part of the 50th floor. 

Corporations leasing space will enjoy both LEED and WELL certifications, making it one of just a few very environmentally friendly and healthy towers. It has a co-generation plant and 90,000 gallon rainwater collection system.  

Back in September 2019, BTB visited the The Summit observatory area – and above — while it was not yet completed nor fully encased in glass. Starting above the 73rd floor, it will include two, step-out, glass floor ledges overhanging Madison Avenue. An infinity room area will have dramatic 40-foot-high ceilings and a breezy outdoor area will become a dining terrace – perfect for our new Covid19 world.

Top spire of One Vanderbilt in September 2019

Views south from One Vanderbilt in September 2019 of One World Trade and the Empire State Building

Views north of Billionaire’s Row and Centra Park from One Vanderbilt in September 2019

One Vanderbilt in the fog from the Empire State Building October 3, 2019

“…this building was the result of a lot of talent, a lot of energy, a lot of vision,” Mayor de Blasio continued. “These are the things we associate with this city. These are the elements of our greatness. You will not find more talent anywhere in the world. You will not find more creativity or spirit or resiliency anywhere in the world, literally. And that’s on display here. And it is a reminder, not just of what we have been, but what we will be.”