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Gov. Hochul’s Penn Station development plan backed by Mayor Adams

Gov. Hochul’s Penn Station development plan backed by Mayor Adams

Mayor Eric Adams is backing Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to use taxes from 10 new skyscrapers around Penn Station to rehab the transit hub — despite warnings from advocates that doing so would divert needed tax revenue from city coffers.

Adams’ office reiterated its support Monday for the controversial $7 billion plan, in which the state took control of a zone around the station in 2019 and declared it a slum, so that it could use taxes in the area to pay for the transit improvements.

Some advocates complain that the tax money on the valuable Manhattan real estate, rather than going to fund struggling city services, will become a state-sponsored windfall for the Vornado Reality Trust, which will build and manage the project.

“What’s it in the city? Nothing. The city got screwed,” said John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany, which is tracking the project. “It’s a giant gift for Vornado.”

Some fear that, despite spending so much on the station, the city won’t even get much of an improvement.

Adams hasn’t commented on the project, but his office has reiterated its support for the Penn Station plan.
Paul Martinka

While City Hall indicated Adams’ support for the plan — which was started under former Gov. Andrew Cuomo — after an inquiry by The Post, the mayor himself has not publicly commented on the proposal.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the state to ensure the area around Penn Station is transformed into the world-class transit hub New Yorkers deserve. The city supports the state’s proposal for substantial new density along with transit and public space improvements around Penn Station, an area long overdue for upgrades,” said City Hall spokesman Charles Lutvak.

Adams’ backing of the project comes as he presses the governor and Albany on his own policy goals — including changing the state’s controversial bail reforms — and just days after the City Planning Commission raised concerns about the plan.

Commissioners on Jan. 27 said they were withholding their support due to concerns about the Penn Station plan’s financing and limited benefits for transportation and “the public realm.”

A rendering of the planned $7 billion development around Penn Station.
A rendering of the planned $7 billion development around Penn Station.
New York Governor’s Office

The math of paying for the project — which the state has not disclosed — should be figured out before the project moves forward, city commissioners warned.

Hochul inherited the effort from ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo. In November, she said the state had reduced the size of the towers by 7 percent — but did not walk back Cuomo’s plan to side-step the city’s zoning process to seize and destroy privately owned buildings.

MTA Chair Janno Lieber, who has been involved in the project, defended the use of taxes on new development to fund transit. He said the state would be remiss to not “capture” increased property value from better transportation infrastructure.

Some advocates have pushed back against the development and have called for the tax money to be put toward city services instead.
Some advocates have pushed back against the development and have called for the tax money to be put toward city services instead.
New York Governor’s Office
The development will be done by Vornado Reality Trust.
The development will be done by Vornado Reality Trust.
New York Governor’s Office

“What good business logic and frankly, good government increasingly is dictating is that there be some strategy for capturing value, so that you make sure that the government can get some of that value and use it to build the infrastructure,” Lieber said Monday at an unrelated press conference.

The mayor does not have a veto over the project; if the city signals its opposition, state law allows the Empire State Development Corporation board to advance the project by a two-thirds vote.

Empire State Development Corporation last week committed to addressing the concerns of city planners.

https://nypost.com/2022/02/07/gov-hochuls-penn-station-development-plan-backed-by-mayor-adams/