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Governor Waffles on Penn Plan

Governor Hochul finally responded last week to all the calls to ditch her current plan for Penn Station, and to focus on real transit improvements. But she waffled on withdrawing the State’s plan to level blocks of Midtown to make way for giant office towers.

Her comments came after key State Senator Leroy Comrie called the project in its current form “dead on arrival.” And Vornado, which initiated the plan for the giant towers, said there are no plans to build given the current market.

Hochul told WNYC what has become obvious: Improving Penn is “not contingent on what Vornado was planning in the entire neighborhood.” But…she also said she remains committed to the project, but would pursue alternatives if necessary.

Why is she still committed to a real estate plan that isn’t crucial to fixing Penn? A plan that favors a developer over the thousands of people who live and work in those blocks. A plan that the State admits would destroy several architecturally worthy buildings.

Every local elected official representing the Penn Station area has suggested, asked, or demanded a different plan. The State risks losing federal money without a real plan that includes agreements with the railroads and New Jersey. Several alternative proposals have been proposed by civic groups.

There are two lawsuits challenging the State’s attempt to use eminent domain in the middle of Manhattan. The Conservancy submitted an amicus brief denouncing the State’s description of the area as “blighted,” calling it “blatant overreach.”

It’s a safe bet that all the electeds, and all the groups seeking an improved Penn, would welcome the opportunity for a real discussion of alternatives.

Ditch the plan. Work with us, Governor. The public will thank you.

Peg Breen, President
The New York Landmarks Conservancy

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