Rally held to stop massive $7 billion Penn Station redevelopment project

Tuesday, August 30, 2022
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N.J. Burkett has more on the protest against the $7 billion plan to redevelop Penn Station and the surrounding neighborhood.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Some people who live near Penn Station are angry about a proposed project that would transform their neighborhood.

The project includes 10 high-rise towers that would stretch from Ninth Avenue to Sixth Avenue and from 30th Street to 34th Street. Each building would include offices, residences and even a new hotel.

It's a huge and expensive undertaking that also promises a complete overhaul of Penn Station -- the busiest transit hub.

But some argue it's nothing less than a struggle for survival. Demonstrators insist the neighborhood around Penn Station is a neighborhood worth saving.

RELATED | Officials hope Penn Station redesign will help improve safety for commuters

Sam Turvey is with ReThink Penn Station, the group's organizer.

"No, it's not Park Avenue, I'm not pretending it is, but if you walk down 30th Street you'll see music shops, furriers, garment center buildings," Turvey said. "It is a classic mixed-use New York City neighborhood."

What they're fighting is is the $7 billion redevelopment of Penn Station and the city blocks surrounding it where a gleaming, refurbished rail terminal would be bordered by the 10 skyscrapers, each more than 1,000 feet tall.

Luxury apartments, stores and office space would replace the older, more modest buildings that have defined the area for the last half of the 20th Century.

It's a project that has the backing of Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams.

"This Penn Station development is crucial for us," Adams previously said. "It's our Empire State Building moment."

But critics say the scale is overwhelming.

On Tuesday, coffins symbolized the dozens of buildings that would be demolished.

Author Lorraine Diehl says the original Penn Station should have been preserved. She said history is repeating itself.

"Underneath all that soot was this gorgeous, pink granite," Diehl said. "I mean, it was a beauty. And it was so easy to do. But I think what happened is, people at that time wanted the new they didn't want the old anymore."

"We're not saying you can't build anything but we are saying you want the best of old and new," Turvey said. "Look, they adaptively reused his post office and what a success story that is."

Demonstrators agree that Penn Station needs to be redeveloped. But at what cost? They're convinced they can fight the plan -- and win.

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