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Larry Silverstein and Tony Malkin on WTC, Security and the Need for 'Forward-Leaning Chairs'

New York

Empire State Realty Trust chairman and CEO Tony Malkin and Silverstein Properties chairman Larry Silverstein were both keynotes at yesterday's Bisnow's Office Leasing & Development at 4 Times Square in NYC, where they spoke on a wide range of subjects. Here are some of their most memorable quotes.

Tony Malkin



On Office Layout:

“No one [at ESRT’s HQ] has a private office. I don’t have a private office...The scanner area looks like a coffee shop. The mailroom looks like a coffee shop. We’re bringing in high design the way BMW makes its factories with high design.”

On Collaboration:

"I think collaboration is one thing. But I think that’s overplayed. To me, it’s all about communication. We collaborate as it is. You have to. But communication, to me, is what it’s about. The Internet, and tools for efficiency, have made people more connected and more distant at the same time. By the way, we’re not going to have ping pong tables, we’re not going to have a keg in the corner. There are no picnic benches. But what we are doing is trying to enforce communication. No chairs in our conference rooms will have arms. Because if you get arms, everybody sits back. I don’t want people sitting back. I want people leaning forward…We want to be a forward-leaning business, well let’s get some damn forward-leaning seats."

On Sustainability:

“Yes, we’re LEED Gold [at the Empire State Building], but I don’t really think that matters. I’m not a big fan of LEED. At some point we’ll de-plaque the building and put up a plaque that says, ‘This building was certified LEED Gold but it doesn’t matter so we took the plaque off.'” [Audience laughs]

On Lower Manhattan's Office Market:

“You can’t put billions and billions and billions and billions of dollars and incentivized loans and tax breaks into Downtown and not effect change. It’s impossible. It might help if they built a dike, but it’s for real.”

On Tech:

“I think first of all, tech is approaching—if not at—its zenith in this cycle.”

On The Current Cycle:

“Overall, we’re going to have a lot of product-seeking, super-premium pricing, and too few tenants, and it’ll probably be in the next three to four years, but it’s not in the next two to three.”

Larry Silverstein



On Holding vs. Selling:

“The experience I’ve had with anything I’ve sold, and I’ve sold at extraordinarily high prices—I thought—but you know, looking back, I made a mistake. Because I would have been smarter to hold onto those assets. Because the values that I thought would never be topped have long since been exceeded and continue to grow.”

On Security:

"My major concern is that the city continue to reflect strength, safety, security. That crime remain low, security remain high, people continue to remain comfortable living in the City of New York. And that people want to continue to traveling to the City of New York—and most importantly, that people want to continue to bring their capital to the City of New York because they deem it to be a safe and secure haven for their capital. If that should slow, we have ourselves a major problem.”

On Aging:

“Retirement is a state of mind. And the truth of the matter is, it’s going to take us another five years to finish [WTC] Tower Two. At that point in time, I’ll be about 90. Hopefully, I’ll be here to enjoy it and see it all. And what I’m going to do with my time after that, I don’t know. I haven’t figured that out yet. But I fully intend to be around.”