Vornado had a vision of large scale outdoor advertising signage in the Penn Station area, but for years couldn’t make any progress in getting the area zoning changed.
Tobin was asked to look into it after starting at Vornado in 1999. She quickly identified the public policy issues and assembled a team able to address them. At the time the city was clamping down on highly profitable but illegal signs sprouting up all over the City. Tobin realized the Penn Station subdistrict would serve the city by demonstrating that they weren't against the industry.
Scaling the Signage
City Planning passed the zoning proposal creating the signage district, and Tobin was able to build the first legal large scale signs outside of Times Square, bringing the first ones to market by 2002. Nike quickly signed a direct lease with Vornado for the corner sign. By signing directly, Vornado did not have to split the revenue with a leasing company which at the time wanted 50%. Tobin never agreed to more than 20%, and due to the scale and location, was able to achieve it. Very quickly, the business generated NOI of $5 million per year, and within three years was meeting Tobin’s business plan of $10 million per year.