Investors Approve Empire State Building IPO

The Empire State Building is going public. The landmark's owners approved a plan this week to offer shares of the building to Wall Street investors. The plan, however, was not without a fight.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

If you've ever wanted to own a piece of the Empire State Building, I guess now is your chance. The building's investors have approved a plan to turn the iconic New York high-rise into a publicly-traded company. This could mark the end of a bitter struggle over the buildings future.

Here's NPR's Dan Bobkoff.

DAN BOBKOFF, BYLINE: You can't talk about the Empire State Building going public, without talking about Leona Helmsley, the late real estate and hotel tycoon, known for leaving millions of dollars to her dog, also had a large stake in the Empire State Building. It's worth about a billion dollars, and her will mandates her real estate assets be sold to support her charitable trust.

So, the building's owners, including the Helmsley trust and Malkin Holdings, propose creating a new company that bundles the landmark with 18 other New York area buildings. It will be sold like a stock on Wall Street as a real estate investment trust.

But first the Malkins had to win the approval of the 2,800 people who've owned stakes in the Empire State Building for more than 50 years. That's what happened this week, when 80 percent of them signed off on the plan, but it was not without a fight.

One of the investors opposing the public offering is Richard Edelman, who says the building is projected to earn a lot more in coming years.

RICHARD EDELMAN: We wanted to retain that wonderful increase in income for ourselves, and not have it diluted where there would be possibly tens of thousands of other owners.

BOBKOFF: Legal proceedings continue, but with the vast majority of the building's investors on board, an Empire State Building IPO is all but certain.

Dan Bobkoff, NPR News, New York.

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