Cuomo wants the state to take control of land surrounding Penn Station

Proposal revealed during budget talks is causing more conflict between Albany and City Hall

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Penn Station and the surrounding land (Credit: Getty Images and Google Maps)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Penn Station and the surrounding land (Credit: Getty Images and Google Maps)

Steve Roth, did you hear? New York State is making a pitch to be the new landlord for the neighborhood around Penn Station.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed including in the state budget a plan that would let the state condemn, acquire or transfer property surrounding the famed New York City transportation hub, according to the New York Times. It would exempt proposed development for the area from several regulations as well, including zoning, land-use and environmental laws. According to Politico, the draft proposal would apply to an area bounded by 30th and 34th streets and Sixth to Eighth avenues.

However, after news of the proposal broke, leaders in the Albany and New York City legislatures both harshly criticized these exemptions, and they were abandoned. The governor’s office has since been assuring politicians that the proposal is just a draft and should be viewed as an opening bid in redevelopment negotiations.

The plan would have the Empire State Development Corp. work with the Metropolitan Transit Authority to redevelop several blocks around the station.

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Although Cuomo’s office maintained that the area by Penn Station was in bad shape and in need of serious changes, State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried told the Times he disagreed with this characterization.

“The area around Penn Station is not some undeveloped, poverty area needing government investment in order to prosper,” he said. “If anything, it is attracting more investment from the real estate community than it can handle.”

Roth’s Vornado Realty Trust is the largest landlord in the area, and is along with Related Companies and Skanska, is redeveloping the Farley Post office into a mixed-use building that also includes a waiting area for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road customers.

In May, Cuomo tapped Roth and Richard LeFrak to serve on a Penn Station task force. A rep for the de Blasio administration also told the Times that the city has been in talks with the state, the MTA and Vornado over potential development plans in the area, but they didn’t resemble what Cuomo pitched during 11th hour budget discussions. [NYT]Eddie Small