"The last thing an office worker wants to see is a dad in a tank top with three screaming children," said Malkin, whose grandfather, Lawrence A. Wien, bought the Empire State Building in 1961 with Harry Helmsley.
Despite the investment, a dowdy reputation can be hard to shed, and some prospective tenants are reluctant to visit the building for a tour. Even some current employees perceive it as an unappealing tourist magnet.
"It's not in the Fashion District and it's not cool downtown," said Sarah Levine, who works in the building as a senior technical designer at Li & Fung, the consumer goods giant. Levine, who was not speaking on behalf of her company, did not know about the coming gym or restaurant, and doubts she would use either. As a working mother, she mostly appreciates the manageable commute from New Jersey.