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Vornado Realty Trust: The NYC Developer Behind 220 Central Park South


You may recognize the Vornado Realty Trust from seeing its metal logo carefully positioned in the elevators, doors, screens, and desks of many major NYC towers.

Vornado Realty Trust is the developer behind some of the city’s largest, most luxurious buildings. If you’ve found yourself in an office near Penn Station, you’ve likely stood within the walls of their work. If you’ve read Bloomberg News, you’ve read something created in a Vornado building. If you’ve shopped on 5th Avenue, then chances are that you’ve spent money in a Vornado retail space.

Lastly, you’ve probably heard about New York City’s most expensive real estate purchase at 220 Central Park South in 2019. Yep, that famous address is owned by Vornado NYC.

So who are the faces behind this illustrious New York City real estate firm? And what do they have to do with the Billionaire’s Row development 220 Central Park South? Let’s dig in.

A history of Vornado

Vornado Realty Trust was first formed in Maryland in 1982, but its origins go back much further. In 1947, brothers Sidney and Herbert Hubschman founded a discount store chain called “Two Guys”. From there, they expanded to acquire an electric fan manufacturer called O.A. Sutton Corporation in 1959. They made Vornado electric fans, which renamed the company Vornado Inc.

The sixties saw a boom for the company with over 200 retail stores across the country. But by the seventies, Vornado began sloughing off its retail operations and sold away many physical locations. In 1980, a real estate development firm called Interstate Properties Inc. acquired an 18% stake in Vornado, with specific focus on their real estate holdings. In 1981, Interstate’s CEO Steven Roth won a proxy battle with its leadership and took complete control of the company. He closed additional stores, which brought down the number of Vornado locations to just 12 in operation.

You can’t talk about Vornado in NYC without including the company’s close ties with Donald Trump. In the eighties, the two companies teamed up to buy around 20% of a failing retailer called Alexander’s, which took up an entire New York City block. Eventually, Trump was forced to turn over his holdings and the store went bankrupt.

It’s worth noting that today, Vornado shares a 70/30 stake with Donald Trump over some key real estate addresses: 555 California Street in San Fransisco and 1290 Avenue of the Americas in NYC.

Alexander’s came out of bankruptcy as a real estate investment trust called Vornado Realty Trust, and by the 1990’s, it was operating primarily as the Vornado real estate developer we know today. They’ve acquired countless office buildings, many through acquiring a company in 1997 for $654 million that greatly expanded their portfolio. They were even on track to sign a 99-year lease for the World Trade Center back in early 2001. After disagreeing with terms and tax liabilities they backed out of the lease just months before the Sept. 11th attacks.


In NYC, Vornado owns and manages over 26 million square feet of LEED-certified buildings across the country. That means these properties have been certified to meet qualifications set by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Building Council. It’s the most widely used green building rating system in the world and is a mark of energy-efficient buildings that take sustainability into account in their construction, interiors, operations, and/or maintenance.

Vornado also received the Energy Star Partner of the Year Award in 2022 for their focus on building sustainable, energy efficient buildings that align with the guidelines set by the government’s Environmental Protection Agency.

Their biggest NYC developments

Across their 62 Manhattan properties, Vornado owns nearly 20 million square feet of office space, 2.5 million square feet of retail space, and over 1,500 residential units. And who knows, some of those offices may become residences soon enough. Let’s dive into some of their most notable properties across all three categories.

220 Central Park South

One of New York City’s most famous skyscrapers, well-known for its extra-expensive luxury condos, is 220 Central Park South. Vornado developed this tower in collaboration with Robert A.M. Stern Architects and SLCE architects. It’s located in Midtown, on the south end of Central Park. By being steps from Columbus Circle, five-star hotels, and the park itself, it’s become one of the city’s most sought-after luxury real estate addresses.

The building has a total of 118 residences, many of which are duplexes. Two of 220 Central Park South’s units have sold for over $100 million, including the most expensive home ever sold in the United States — a $238 million unit bought in 2918.

Penn District

As you can imagine, Vornado’s Penn District is the area surrounding Penn Station which is owned by Vornado and feels sort of like a campus of their properties. They own over a dozen buildings and land sites that cover 9 million square feet.

Buildings include 1, 2, 11, and 15 Pennsylvania Plaza (each over a million square feet in size), the Moynihan Train Hall’s retail spaces, as well as mixed-use towers 7 West 34th Street and 330 West 34th Street, among others.

731 Lexington Avenue

This building was once home to the retail store Alexander’s, mentioned above, but is now widely known as Bloomberg Tower. It’s a 1.3-million-square-feet mixed-use glass skyscraping tower that opened in 2004 to house the headquarters of the Bloomberg L.P. media company. As of July 2022, it’s the 40th-tallest building in New York City and the 85th-tallest building in the United States, standing tall at 55 stories.

Times Square

Vornado owns two properties at the heart of Times Square that happen to be directly across the street from one another. 1535 Broadway is home to the popular Marriott Marquis hotel and spans the entire block, from 45th to 46th Streets on Broadway. Across from that is 1540 Broadway, another Vornado NYC property which is an office tower called the Bertelsmann building. The lights and screens of Times Square are another Vornado investment — the company constructed one the world’s largest 4K LED screens. It’s six stories high and 330 feet wide and sits atop their Times Square property. Vornado has leased the screen to major global brands like Sephora, Levi’s, Swatch, and T-Mobile.

How to buy Vornado-owned property

Knowing this company is behind a new development you’re interested in is a sign that you’re looking for high-end luxury living with state-of-the-art amenities, elevated interior design, and the best custom furnishings.

On top of offices and retail, Vornado is the name behind one of the city’s most luxurious, high-end residences at 220 Central Park South, as well as The Alexander building of Rego Park in Queens, New York City.

Buying a home at this price and quality requires having an agent who knows the ropes and can get you in to see the right properties at the right time — and make sure you’re a serious contender for the sale. The NewDevRev team is highly experienced in this area and ready to guide you to the Vornado-developed home of your dreams. All it takes is reaching out to start the conversation. From there you’ll see some Vornado NYC residences, consider your goals and needs for your next home, and work with your agent to make an offer that’s bound to beat the competition.