According to a report that appeared last week in Crain’s, Vornado has raised between $500 and $700 million from a Chinese investment concern to finance the construction of 20 Times Square, the Richard Rogers-designed, 1.3 million-square-foot, 42-story tower planned to rise above the Port Authority Bus Terminal that will aim for LEED for Core and Shell Gold from USGBC. The discussions appear to be ongoing; Vornado would not comment to Crain’s, and the name of the potential investor is unknown. The project has been in the works for some time; Vornado was selected back in 2000 to develop a tower above the Bus Terminal, and received an extension of its development rights from the Port Authority in 2010 in light of the persistently soft market conditions.
Although Vornado has reportedly told industry insiders that intends to construct 20 Times Square even without an anchor tenant, the brand-new, LEED-CS Gold-certified 11 Times Square stands across the street, which could both create significant competition for tenants between the two towers as well as make Vornado’s search for its own anchor tenant all the more difficult. (It took SJP Properties an extended period of time to sign up Proskauer Rose at 11 Times Square). Though anecdotal, it’s also noteworthy that Vornado intends to pursue the same level of LEED certification at 20 Times Square as SJP did across the street.
Nevertheless, it’s still unclear at this point whether the project will move forward or even if Vornado will continue to hold the development rights with the Port Authority if the Chinese financing falls through and construction fails to proceed. As we noted previously here at gbNYC, 20 Times Square would be built above the north wing of the Bus Terminal at the corner of West 42nd Street and 8th Avenue. Its roof – which currently serves as a parking deck – would be transformed into green outdoor space; the Bus Terminal, which was built back in 1950 to eventually support a high-rise above, was recently named the world’s fifth ugliest building in a decidedly unscientific study that appeared on virtualtourist.com.
The Rogers design was selected from a group of concepts that were also presented by Pelli Clarke Pelli and KPF. Vornado is leasing the air rights above the Bus Terminal from the Port Authority, and the agency will use those funds to upgrade its facility with 60,000 square feet of retail and 18 new bus gates in order to boost passenger capacity by 18 percent during peak rush hours.