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Empire State Complex Update

Now that Governor Cuomo is leaving office, his Empire State Complex plans should leave with him. Do we need to improve Penn Station? Absolutely. Was this plan the answer? Absolutely not.

Rendering of Empire Station Complex, a 20-million-square-foot redevelopment plan for Midtown Manhattan.

It was outrageous to threaten eminent domain and demolition on six busy blocks of Midtown for a giant complex of mostly large commercial buildings that would dwarf Hudson Yards. Urban renewal was discredited years ago.

The initial premise was that money from the new developments would go to improve Penn Station. But the State acknowledged it could take 30 years to build out. And there was no public explanation of how much money would be generated or what improvements it would pay for.

The State Economic Development Corporation changed the goal during a recent discussion with local Community Boards. Now they claim the money is needed to match Federal funds for the proposed Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River. One critic says the State could sell bonds to raise the match, as it has in other cases.

Empire Station Complex area from the west, image by Andrew Campbell Nelson

State Senator Brad Hoylman has opposed this project from the beginning. State Senator Liz Krueger has expressed concerns. Perhaps other elected officials will find their voices now that the Governor has resigned. Private groups have offered other visions of improving Penn Station. We urge incoming Governor Hochul to call a halt to Cuomo’s plan and get input from all quarters on how to proceed.

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