The State Legislature blocked Governor Cuomo from using any of the $1.3 billion he put into the Capital budget for demolishing the blocks around Penn Station for a massive real estate development.
Instead, the money can only be used to improve and expand Penn Station itself, “not for above-grade development.”
This is great news. But it is only Round One. Now the State must scrap the current Empire Station plan that would level six blocks around the station, destroying landmark quality buildings and evicting tenants. Money from the development, which would be larger than Hudson Yards, was supposed to be used for improving Penn Station. But there were no details of how much the State anticipated raising, or how it would be spent.
The Legislature also allows the funding to go to “other transportation improvement projects” and allows the funding to be transferred to other State departments, agencies or public authority.” So it’s not clear how the appropriation will be used.
We are delighted that City legislators stood up against the threat of eminent domain and allowing the State to run roughshod over the City’s zoning and land-use policies. We anticipate future rounds in this battle. Everyone agrees that Penn Station needs improvement. But it should not mean destroying homes and businesses to accomplish that.
The State Economic Development Corporation has postponed a scheduled May 12 public hearing on the Governor’s plan.