Members of key City Council subcommittees gave the proposed 15 Penn Plaza building their full approval—all 1,216 feet of it. Though a full City Council vote is expected later in the day, the votes signal that the project will be moving forward as planned, regardless of ESB owner Anthony Malkin's protests. The ace in the hole? Vornado Realty Trust promised to employ minority- and women-owned firms.

The proposal was passed unanimously by the zoning and franchises subcommittee, and there was one nay vote from the and use committee. That dissenting vote came from Councilman Charles Barron, who called Vornado's pledge to give 15% of the work to minority firms "bogus and nonsense." He said, "Not a single black business will be able to locate in that building. This is a project for the rich. This is a project that excludes us."

Though others approved the proposal, many expressed similar concerns, and said they would want more guarantees that minority- and women-owned firms would be hired. Councilman James Sanders said, "The city has a 70% minority population, and we're setting a goal of 15%? This is a tepid response to a need. A very tepid response." The project would cost an estimated $2 billion.