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Council OKs New Neighbor For Empire State Bldg

NEW YORK (CBS 2/1010 WINS/WCBS 880/AP) -- The Empire State Building's owner has lost his bid to stop a new skyscraper from rising in the neighborhood.

On Wednesday the New York City Council approved zoning and land use changes that will pave the way for a new 67-story tower at 15 Penn Plaza two blocks west of the 102-story Empire State landmark.

Anthony malkin, the Empire State Building's owner, had tried to convince lawmakers to reject the project.  Malkin said the proposed 1,190-foot glass office tower will ruin the view and forever alter the city's skyline.

"This is an issue of a size 22 foot in a size 12 shoe. It's just bloody big," Malkin said.

However, CBS 2's Sean Hennessey reports Mayor Michael Bloomberg scoffed at the notion that the Empire State Building shouldn't face a new competitor in New York City's skyline.

"One guy owns a building, he'd like it to be the only tall building.  I'm sorry that's not the real world, nor should it be," Bloomberg said.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also echoed Bloomberg's sentiments and stressed that, in the case of a new skyscraper, change is good.

"We want there to be new Rockefeller Centers and new Chrysler Buildings. We want there to be buildings that challenge the rest of the skyline in its greatness," Quinn said.

However, some on the Council, including Charles Barron of Brooklyn, voted against the plan, saying that minorities would not be able to afford to rent anything inside the forthcoming complex.

"This is a building that is built for white elites in a city that is now overwhelmingly black and Latino people,"  Barron told Hennessey.

But Vornado Realty Trust -- the company behind the newly approved project -- said they planned to ensure inclusiveness as the endeavor moved forward, and released the following statement Wednesday:

"We wish to acknowledge the efforts of the City Council, the City Planning Commission, the Borough President and all those connected with the approval of our project, which we believe will be an outstanding addition to New York's iconic skyline.  We look forward to working with the Council to implement strong minority and women participation in the development and construction of 15 Penn Plaza."

The project is expected to create 7,000 new jobs and developers will spend about $150 million to improve transportation in the area around Penn Station, 1010 WINS senior correspondent Stan Brooks reports.

The development is still in the planning stages. No date for construction has been set.

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