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RIP: Penn Real Estate Scheme

The obituaries for Governor Kathy Hochul’s redevelopment scheme around Penn Station keep piling up. Today’s Daily News has an editorial and two opinion pieces saying it’s time for the Governor to face reality and work with other elected officials and stakeholders on a real transit plan.

“Every elected official representing the Penn Station area has now either suggested, asked or demanded that the state change its plan, including Senator Chuck Schumer’s recent call for Governor Hochul to compromise,” writes State Assembly Member Tony Simone. “Such baffling intransigence in the face of obvious defeat would be almost comical if it wasn’t irresponsible.” Read the full opinion piece.

There is another State Senate hearing on the Penn Plan today. There are renewed calls by electeds and Community Board 5 to have the State issue bonds to pay for a Penn upgrade that puts riders first, and would likely be eligible for federal monies.

Governor Hochul has clung to a plan to demolish six blocks around Penn Station for giant office towers. But the developer who promoted this has said there are no plans to build in the current climate. There are also two lawsuits challenging the State’s plan. The Conservancy has joined an amicus brief for one lawsuit that calls the State’s threat of eminent domain a blatant overreach. These blocks are not “blighted.” They are full of homes, local businesses, and more than a dozen architecturally important buildings. Additionally, the State has never said what amount of money it expected to receive from the new towers. But it did say the towers would contribute only 12 percent of the current $7 billion plan for the Station.

“It is time for the governor and the Legislature to emerge from this nightmare and realize that fiscally sound options do exist to upgrade Penn Station and create a truly modernized transit hub that will promote additional connectivity, capacity growth, and transit justice,” writes Layla Law-Gisiko, chair of the Community Board 5 Land Use Committee. Read the full opinion piece.

And there is no need to destroy vibrant blocks of Midtown to achieve this.

Peg Breen, President
The New York Landmarks Conservancy

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