Richard LeFrak has declined an appointment to a task force Gov. Andrew Cuomo assembled to resolve the mountain of issues plaguing Penn Station, according to LeFrak’s spokesperson.
In May, Cuomo tapped LeFrak and Vornado Realty Trust’s Steve Roth to join the task force. The governor asked the task force to help determine what entity should ultimately operate Penn Station, saying he had “lost all patience” with longtime operator Amtrak and broaching the possibility of replacing Amtrak with a private “qualified operator,” New York State, or the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
But LeFrak, who serves as the chair and CEO of the LeFrak Organization and who Forbes estimates is worth $6.6 billion, is “unable to serve due to all of his other commitments,” his spokesperson said.
Penn Station’s operator would oversee the $1.6 billion transformation of the now-vacant James A. Farley Post Office Building into a grand new station entrance with 700,000 square feet of office and retail space. The state awarded that contract to Vornado, Skanska, and Related Companies in September, and the developers will collectively invest $600 million of their own money into the project. The operator would also oversee the in-limbo $20 billion Gateway Program to build new tunnels underneath the Hudson River to double the capacity of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor lines and allow for high-speed rail service.
In January, President Trump tapped LeFrak and Roth, both close personal friends of his, to head up a council that will monitor national infrastructure spending.
“All their lives, they build,” Trump said at the time. “They build under-budget, ahead of schedule.”