Penn Station redevelopment should go through city land use process, opponents say
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The redevelopment of Penn Station through the Empire Station complex proposal requires an open process for residents and city council to intervene, according to those who oppose Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan.
State Senator Brad Hoylman is proposing a bill that will require the expansion of transportation infrastructure and the expansion of Penn Station by providing office space both in the sky and the surrounding blocks go through the uniform land use review process.
“No height restriction, no [floor area ratio] restrictions, not usage restrictions, and you know what your taxpayers are subsidizing to the tune of $ 1.3 billion, right? Let’s add something else to this mix, which is that Midtown Manhattan has a vacancy rate of over 17%. Does this make sense? We don’t need 20 million square feet of commercial office space, we need supportive and affordable housing, ”Hoylman said. “If we don’t pass this legislation, a general project plan will literally destroy this neighborhood without any meaningful input from the local community.”
State Senator Liz Krueger, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, explained that she was perplexed as to how the governor’s plan, presented in January 2020, appears to offer few transportation improvements outside of ‘a proposal to expand a block to the south and increase capacity by 40%.
“Obviously we need a better Penn Station and we clearly need more capacity for trains to enter and exit Penn Station. It’s not just a question of aesthetics. It’s about whether trains can come and go, there are a lot of different ways for us to get there, ”Krueger said. “When I read the governor’s plan for this deal, he doesn’t even talk about doing anything at Penn Station, but just like he just happens to be sitting next to everything.
But Dan Biederman, chairman of the 34th Street Partnership, a proponent of the redevelopment plan, doesn’t really trust the ULURP process as the way forward for the Empire Station Complex.
“There are other ways to participate besides ULURP. I have noticed that the state extended a number of deadlines in response to opposition. There was originally supposed to be some sort of deadline in April something and now it goes back to June or July, so I think the process argument is a bit stretched, ”he said. “The opponents are not experts in the real estate market … No one is saying that these office buildings will be built this year, the market has plenty of time to recover.”
If anything, Biederman argued that transit improvements at Penn Station would increase the demand for office space in what would be a convenient location.
“I’ve said it a number of times, if there’s a great place to develop bulky buildings, it’s right above Penn Station, the tallest [transit hub] in the country, ”Biederman added.
In April, Matthew Gordon, spokesperson for Empire State Development, issued the following statement:
“There has been a universal consensus among community leaders that Penn Station needs to be overhauled and expanded and that the surrounding neighborhood needs to be revitalized. We are currently engaged in a strong community process on how to achieve these common goals. To date, EDD has organized more than 50 meetings with local elected officials and other community stakeholders, including a virtual public meeting attended by 200 people last July. We have incorporated public feedback into the project at every stage – such as adding residential alternatives for three of the development sites – and will continue to do so as the process progresses. “
Part of the redevelopment annoying protesters at Sunday’s rally was the hope that the Pennsylvania Hotel would be destroyed in the process.
Currently not serving guests, the Pennsylvania Hotel is owned by Vornado Real Estate Trust, which plans to replace what was once the tallest hotel in the world with a new skyscraper that could eclipse the Empire State Building just downstairs. the street.
Efforts by the Monuments Preservation Commission to protect the century-old hotel, which is the few remnants of the original Penn Station complex destroyed in the 1960s – essentially giving rise to the LPC – have been unsuccessful, with the agency explaining that the structure “does not achieve the level of architectural significance necessary to be considered a potential landmark.”