Governor Cuomo looking to give the state control of Penn Station area

Posted On Thu, March 29, 2018 By

Posted On Thu, March 29, 2018 By In Midtown West, Policy, Transportation

Photo outside Penn Station via Maciek Lulko/Flickr

Less than one week before the state’s deadline to adopt its budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the “New York Pennsylvania Station Area Redevelopment Project,” a state-controlled development area around Penn Station. In the constant one-upmanship between Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, this would give Cuomo control over one of Manhattan’s top name-brand landmarks, according to a draft proposal acquired by Politico.

Cuomo proposes two agencies, the Empire State Development (a state agency) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), to redevelop and control the proposed area between 30th and 34th Streets and Sixth and Eighth Avenues. Although the Governor’s original proposal sought to free those two agencies from zoning, environmental, and land-use laws when they sought to “condemn, acquire or transfer property,” that stipulation was quickly withdrawn.

Democratic lawmakers immediately fired back. Alicia Glen, NYC’s deputy mayor of housing and economic development, told the New York Times, “It completely erases any role for the city, local officials or the surrounding community. It’s beyond the pale.” She continued in an interview: “Can you imagine building four or five 100-story towers and not even doing a shadow study or a traffic study? You know, I’m not known as the biggest environmentalist in town, but Jesus Christ.”

When asked why he wants to override the area’s current zoning, Cuomo said, “Penn Station is in imminent need — it’s a public safety hazard. You have 600,000 people there every day, we have a new age of terrorism, and Penn Station could be a dangerous circumstance if we don’t find ways to do more access and egress.” In reference to the specific document, Cuomo spokesman Peter Ajemian said it’s “outdated, inaccurate and not comprehensive.”

Despite the last minute nature of this recent proposal, Cuomo first announced his Penn Station renovation plan in September 2016. The redevelopment of the James A. Farley Post Office across Eighth Avenue into a train hall for Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road is underway, and after decades of delays, the $1.6 billion Penn Station construction finally began in June. Additionally, Brookfield’s seven million-square-foot Manhattan West development is the second largest master plan in the area, and recently released a slew of flashy new renderings.

[Via NYT and Politico]

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