Landlord to Cuomo: “No intention of selling” Penn Station site

Governor eyes city block to expand train hub, has eminent domain in back pocket

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a rendering of Penn Station (Credit: Getty Images, Governor's Office)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a rendering of Penn Station (Credit: Getty Images, Governor's Office)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Penn Station expansion plan already has a big hurdle — 17 stories tall, in fact.

A landlord whose business is in the pathway of the project said he is angry about the proposal unveiled Monday and doesn’t want to move.

“We are long-term property owners with no intention of selling,” Michael Orbach, whose company owns a 17-story office building at 259 West 30th Street, told Crain’s.

Cuomo said he aims to buy a city block south of Penn Station to build another terminal and boost capacity at the busy rail hub. Although the idea had been talked about for years, Cuomo’s declaration caught some property owners off guard and raised questions about the potential use of eminent domain.

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“We were never notified in writing of the state’s intentions prior to the announcement, so we really do not know what the scope of this project is,” Orbach said. “While we appreciate the need to expand Penn Station and appreciate the governor’s intentions here, we have seen the state’s use of the eminent domain process in the past at the New York Times Building on Eighth Avenue and it was not handled in a fair way for the small property owners involved.”

Following the announcement, owners of some of the 51 properties on the block bordered by Seventh and Eighth avenues and West 30th and West 31st streets told The Real Deal that they had not been contacted by the governor’s office.

The governor’s office said it wants to acquire private property through friendly negotiations rather than by condemning them. Orbach’s reaction throws the first wrench in that plan.

[Crain’s] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan