Chairman and CEO at Vornado Realty Trust
Last year's rank: 3
The present and future put Steven Roth on this list.
His Vornado Realty Trust controls 67 buildings and sites in Manhattan that contain 20.6 million square feet of office space, 2.7 million square feet of retail and 1,674 housing units. Some 9 million square feet of that space surrounds Pennsylvania Station, the Western Hemisphere’s busiest transportation hub. Vornado also owns most of the three-building office complex at 555 California Street in San Francisco and Chicago’s 3.7 million-square-foot theMART retail center (aka Merchandise Mart). And it signed Facebook, already a major tenant in its Farley Post Office redevelopment, to a 300,000-square-foot expansion in 770 Broadway in April.
It’s that space around Penn Station, though, that makes Roth’s Vornado particularly consequential these days. He and the company have long planned — with government permissions and support — to build a grand, interconnected office campus around the station. And, through fits and starts (and a global slowdown in office space demand due to COVID), the plan appears to still be a go.
“My excitement and conviction about our Penn District grows quarter by quarter,” Roth said on a year-end earnings call for 2021.
Late that year, in fact, the plan survived a change in administrations in Albany. Gov. Kathy Hochul — like her disgraced predecessor, Andrew Cuomo — came out in favor of major development around Penn Station, including several towers to be built by Vornado that would, so the plan goes, help defray the cost of redeveloping Penn itself. (Hochul, like Cuomo, also shares Roth as a campaign contributor.) The latest plan includes more than 18.3 million square feet, larger than Hudson Yards.
The Penn District plan could yet morph again, but its collapse seems unlikely. That means Roth and company will add to their present portfolio in the future, dominating an entire swath of the nation’s most valuable real estate market.