Taxpayers can foot the bill for Penn Station revitalization, report says

In many ways, the project mirrored Mr. Cuomo’s other efforts to make his mark on the city, including the renovation of Moynihan Train Hal...


In many ways, the project mirrored Mr. Cuomo’s other efforts to make his mark on the city, including the renovation of Moynihan Train Hall across from Penn Station and his reconstruction of the city’s major airports in Queens.

In this case, development funds would pay for aesthetic improvements to Penn Station, as well as a potential expansion of the station one block south of its current location. New tracks and platforms would add rail capacity along the economically vital corridor connecting New Jersey commuters to jobs in New York, after a second tunnel is built under the Hudson River.

The state would exercise its authority to overrule local zoning and planning laws so that developers could construct taller buildings on the site than otherwise permitted. When Ms. Hochul took over from Mr. Cuomo, she continued state support for the project while making modest changes to appease critics, such as widening pedestrian walkways and slightly reducing the proposed scale of the project. .

The report also highlights a key concern of critics: it would largely benefit just one company, Vornado Realty Trust, one of the city’s largest office developers. Vornado has four sites in the development area and part of a fifth, and its chief executive, Steven Roth, last year given the maximum$69,700, to Ms. Hochul’s campaign.

Mr. Roth, along with his family members, also gave Mr. Cuomo about $400,000 in campaign donations before he quit. State officials and a Vornado spokesperson said the donations did not influence Vornado’s role in the company. Mr. Roth called the redevelopment of the Penn Station area Vornado’s “promised land.”

During an earnings call this week, Mr. Roth reiterated the company’s commitment to the state draft. “Obviously we support it,” he said.

A Vornado spokesperson declined to comment on the report’s record.

Despite the state’s multi-year work on the project and its looming approval, the Independent Budget Office found that the plan lacked a solid analysis of many risks, including the consequences of shifting to remote work and whether new Penn Station towers could negatively impact Hudson. Yards, the huge development in far western Manhattan. Hudson Yards opened in 2019 and has a tax arrangement structured similarly to the proposed Penn Station site.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Taxpayers can foot the bill for Penn Station revitalization, report says
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