NEW YORK The company that owns the Empire State Building is a step closer to going public.
According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, more than 80 percent of shareholders approved a plan to turn the privately held company into a publicly traded real estate investment trust.
The plan, spearheaded by father-and-son real estate magnates Peter and Anthony Malkin, could raise up to $1 billion by selling stock in a new company. It will be called Empire State Realty Trust and include the Malkins' holdings in Manhattan and Connecticut.
Millions of tourists each year ascend the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper's heights each year to view the city from its observation deck, made famous in films such as "King Kong'' and "Sleepless in Seattle.'' And the proposed IPO is viewed as a rare chance for investors to own a piece of history.
Malkin originally proposed the plan early last year but met resistance from a small group of stakeholders who claimed they were misled about the proposal and that the move would put an unfair tax burden on them. Earlier this month, a New York judge backed a $55 million settlement between the Malkins and some of the disgruntled shareholders.
When the Empire State Building changed hands in 1961, the buyers sold 1,100 shares at $10,000 per share to help finance the deal. Some of the 3,300 investors were ordinary New Yorkers who pulled together just enough cash to buy partial shares.
The proposed public offering values the shares at more than $300,000 each.