NYC commission withholds support for Hochul’s plan to rebuild Penn Station
Rendering courtesy of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s massive redevelopment plan of Penn Station hit a roadblock last week. The City Planning Commission said it will withhold support for Hochul’s new transit hub due to uncertainties over funding and a lack of improvement to transit and the public realm. Before the city recommends its full support, the project’s planners must resolve these issues, as the commission wrote in a letter to the Empire State Development Corporation.
The commission has taken issue with the plan’s financing. When unveiling her proposal last November, the governor said the renovation of Penn could cost up to $7 billion and take four to five years to complete.
The rebuilding of Penn Station is part of the Gateway Project, which involves the construction of two new Hudson River rail tunnels and the renovation of two existing tunnels, as well as the redevelopment of Midtown West, known as the General Project Plan (GPP). The commission estimates this ambitious project, in its entirety, to cost between $30 and $40 billion, which will in part be divided among the federal government, New York, and New Jersey.
“While there have been some very preliminary discussions, the structure and terms of the GPP financing has significant economic implications and impacts on the city,” Anita Laremont, the chair of the City Planning Commission, wrote. “The commission urges ESD to address the financing for the GPP: it is a topic that must be concretely resolved prior to affirming the GPP.”
In addition to issues with the project’s financing, the commission urged the project’s planners to reexamine its approach to improving the public realm by creating infrastructure that will accommodate the increase in density while also improving circulation. The city urged the project’s planners to “identify public realm improvements that optimize place and movement by improving and creating new open spaces, walking routes, and pedestrian amenities.”
Last November, Hochul announced her own variation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to renovate Penn Station, which involved the construction of 10 new office buildings with the funds raised from their development being put towards a new train terminal that would increase capacity and include needed upgrades.
Hochul’s plan would create a single-level train hall that doubles the amount of space for passengers, expands underground corridors, and adds eight acres of public space, including a 30,000 square foot plaza. It would also include a scaled-back construction of the office buildings, shaving off 1.4 million square feet of development from Cuomo’s plan.
According to Gothamist, the Penn Station project doesn’t need approval from city entities to move forward, but the plan is being developed in coordination with the city’s Department of Transportation and the CPC.
Despite the current conflict between the city and state over the status of the project, the city “supports the goals” of the plan and “is pleased to see efforts to plan and design a fittingly significant district for Penn Station and its environs.”
The city and state will continue working together to ensure the new Penn Station plan enhances the area and public transit while making sure financing is resolved and improvements to the public realm are optimized.
The public comment period for the Penn project is ongoing. Add your input here.