Vornado's Steve Roth Admits that Plan for Penn Neighborhood is "Frozen" For Next Five Years

Admission of failed plan comes as Gov continues to defend her diminished plan for the area, promise immediate development; Luxury developer, Hochul donor Roth acknowledges Vornado could sell property for residential development despite Gov's promise to build commercial towers

NEW YORK, NY (02/14/2024) (readMedia)-- Yesterday, Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steven Roth admitted during the company's quarterly earnings call that office and commercial development in the neighborhood surrounding Penn Station is impossible for the next five years, directly contradicting Governor Kathy Hochul's plan for the area and calling in to question why the Governor has not scrapped it for a viable alternative. On the call with investors, Roth said, "you can't build anything in [the] district today because of the frozen capital markets. You cannot do it - the math doesn't work."

In response, Paige Havener, Campaign Manager for the End Hochul's Hoax coalition, issued the following statement:

"Governor Hochul has aggressively defended the reckless real estate scheme she hatched with Vornado, despite widespread opposition from community members and advocates urging a housing-first plan for the Penn area and more responsible development. Now, Vornado - the company that's been given exclusive rights over nearly the entire neighborhood surrounding Penn Station - is finally saying what the Governor is unwilling to admit: their plan is dead on arrival, and the limbo it created is killing Midtown. Roth has all but guaranteed no development in the area for the foreseeable future, largely preventing housing production on one of the city's most buildable sites by half-a-decade during a housing crisis. New Yorkers can't wait - it's well-past time for the Governor to admit that her shameless plan on behalf of a major donor is not going to happen, and instead prioritize a housing-first proposal that addresses New York's worsening affordability crisis."


Governor Kathy Hochul's "General Project Plan", or GPP, would override New York City's zoning laws to hand 18 million square feet of expensive office and commercial space to Vornado, a major campaign donor, for exclusive development. Despite clear signs that development is impossible, the Governor has continued to block thousands of units of urgently needed affordable housing in the area.

Hochul's plan currently prohibits any affordable housing from being built on most of the land owned by Vornado and requires less than 2% of the total footprint be used for affordable housing. The deal also provides minimal public space, and includes few considerations for mass transit. Her defense of the plan is especially egregious given the acute housing shortage in New York City, where the city's housing stock continues to decline. Governor Hochul is right: New York needs housing now, and the State must do everything it can to deliver on that. Hochul must stay true to her word and stop blocking the creation of housing that New Yorkers need now.

In December, members of Community Board 5 joined a coalition of residents, small business owners, housing advocates, the Office of the New York City Public Advocate, and other organizations to launch "End Hochul's Hoax", a campaign formally demanding that Governor Hochul abandon support for the plan and instead stand with her constituents by focusing on a plan for the area that delivers affordable housing in the neighborhood.

Last month, Community Board 5 passed a resolution with near unanimous support that cited New York City's pressing housing shortage and criticized the Governor for ignoring the community's proposal for housing in the area.