15 Penn Plaza, also known as the Vornado Tower, is a proposed 68-story tower in the Midtown Manhattan section of New York City planned by Vornado Realty Trust. It would have 430 units and 2,050,000 square feet (190,451 m²) of floor space. The Hiller Group is the designer. Despite only having 68 floors, it would be just 10 metres (33 ft) shorter than the Empire State Building, which has 102 floors.
The building would be 1,216 feet (371 m) in height, in addition to being 1,400 feet (430 m) away from, and 33 feet (10 m) shorter than, the Empire State Building. Anthony and Peter L. Malkin, owners of the historic structure, had requested the creation of a 17-block exclusion zone that would prohibit large buildings from being built that would obstruct views of the Empire State Building and suggested that the proposed skyscraper be limited to 825 feet (251 m) in height. While Manhattan Community Board 5 voted overwhelmingly against the proposed project, the New York City Planning Commission approved the plan, which would allow the building to be 56% larger than standard zoning rules provide under special regulations that encourage the development of high-density office space near transit hubs. Opinion is divided about the plan, with Henry Stern, former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation said the proposed building "could do irreparable harm" to the city, Daniel Biederman, president of the 34th Street Partnership joined union and construction officials in saying that "If there's anywhere a building of this size and bulk should be built, it's at Penn Station.
The Empire State Building's owner, Anthony Malkin, asked the City Council on August 24, 2010, to deny permission for the construction of the Vornado Tower. Malkin's reasoning is that the new building would alter the skyline and obscure the view of the western side of the Empire State Building. Located at Seventh Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Streets on the site of present-day Hotel Pennsylvania, opposite Pennsylvania Station – a major transit hub for the Long Island Rail Road, New Jersey Transit, Amtrak and the New York City Subway – the proposed building would add a concourse improving access within Penn Station and adding several new subway entrances. In exchange for increases in height and density for the building, Vornado would undertake $100 million in transit-related improvements that would reopen the "Gimbels passageway", which was blocked off in 1986 and would reconnect Penn Station to Herald Square at Sixth Avenue and the 34th Street – Herald Square station (B D F M N Q R W trains) and the 33rd Street terminal of the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) train, which provides access to Hoboken and Journal Square trains. An updated passageway would be built to the standards of "the elegant and efficient passageways at Grand Central and Rockefeller Center" and would also have integrated access to the proposed New Jersey Transit terminal that would be constructed as part of the Access to the Region's Core tunnel that was to be constructed under the Hudson River.
On August 25, 2010, in a 47–1 vote, the City Council voted to approve construction of the building, despite what The New York Times described as "a fierce public relations, advertising and lobbying campaign" by the owners of the Empire State Building to derail the project. The Council's zoning and land use committees approved the project and the full council overwhelmingly voted to approve the plan, with the only dissenter, Brooklyn Councilmember Charles Barron, voting in the negative as a protest against the absence of a guarantee by Vornado to hire minority and female construction workers.
According to the New York Post, by December 2011 the building project was suspended, with Vornado Realty Trust announcing it will instead renovate the Hotel Pennsylvania – the intended site for the 15 Penn Plaza tower – delaying the skyscraper until it becomes financially feasible to start construction.
On March 4, 2013, Vornado announced that it was abandoning plans to build the tower; instead it will "invest aggressively" into the Hotel Pennsylvania to make it into "a really profitable, really good hotel for our purposes."
On August 2014, citing increased interest from tenants, the project was unshelved and the proposed renovation of Hotel Penn was put on hold indefinitely.
Still, as of February 2015, Vornado Chairman & CEO Steve Roth was non-committal to the project: "The Hotel Penn is important, but not the main event. The main event is to get the office buildings so that they command higher market ranch than they do currently. And by the way, they are rising with the marketplace, quite smartly, currently. So we’re not prepared to commit to what our plan for the Hotel Pennsylvania is,."