New Yorkers Blast State Vote to Approve Penn Station Mega-Towers Deal + Massive Giveaway to Billionaire Donor
Public Authorities Control Board Could Vote on the Plan As Soon As Next Week
NEW YORK, NY (07/21/2022) (readMedia)-- Organizations representing thousands of New Yorkers blasted a State board's approval today of the controversial plan to build 10 new massive towers around Penn Station, calling the action a rubber stamp for the Hochul Administration to enrich a mega-donor to the governor's campaign.
Trains Before Towers – a movement supported by community residents, housing and transit advocates, and local business owners – also rallied today before the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) approved 18 million square feet of new skyscrapers citing serious, unanswered questions raised by New York City's Independent Budget Office, the New York City Planning Commission and nearly every State Senator representing the five boroughs.
"This deal is getting worse all the time. ESD told us that we need to raze an entire community and give a ten figure tax break to Vornado in order to pay for a new Penn Station. Now they're telling us that we need to do all that for one eighth of a new Penn Station," said Diana Gonzalez, campaign manager of Trains Before Towers.
The plan, which usurps City land use authority, will enrich billionaire Steve Roth of Vornado without any guarantees the scheme would adequately fund transit improvements at Penn Station, unless the Public Authorities Control Board now rejects the plan-a vote which could happen as soon as next week. Roth is also a major donor to Gov. Kathy Hochul's campaign.
"This is a bad deal for Penn Station. Governor Hochul is about to badly lose a game of Monopoly with Vornado. She's handing the developers everything with practically nothing in return -- with no guarantees that Penn Station will ever again be great. Why not use the leverage she has now to start the process of moving Madison Square Garden and removing 2 Penn -- and giving air and light back to New Yorkers and mass transit passengers? Why throw it all away?" said Alexandros Washburn, Executive Director, Grand Penn Community Alliance.
"True facts and figures greatly disfavor the project. The equities are stacked 'supertall high' in opposition to this project. The Governor needs to withdraw the GPP. Alternatively, ESD could spare her the agony Andrew Cuomo left her and vote down the plan later this morning," said Sam Turvey, co-chair of Empire Station Coalition.
Earlier this year, the City's Independent Budget Office released a report, raising serious questions about the financial viability of the project and whether there were enough details to gauge the plan's impact. The IBO report also concluded that while the State would collect payments from Vornado, the City would lose out on property tax revenue that it would have earned in a standard rezoning process. A majority of the city's Senate delegation have voiced opposition to the plan. The Senators specifically voiced concerns about how much Vornado will receive in subsidies and other State-sponsored benefits as part of the plan and how much the City stands to lose in property taxes, urging ESD to halt the plan until there are "??explanations provided and agreements made associated with the cost, design, scope, bond liabilities, and other aspects of the project that remain unknown." Good government groups including Common Cause, Reinvent Albany, BetaNYC, League of Women Voters and NYPIRG have also voiced opposition to the plan.
About Trains Before Towers
TBT is a coalition of community organizations, transit advocacy groups, preservation organizations, affordable housing advocacy groups, and good government organizations dedicated to improving the transit infrastructure at Penn Station.