Critics call for end to Penn Station redesign as developer admits plan no longer viable

Friday, March 3, 2023
Activists demand end to Penn Station re-development plan
Critics are calling for the end to a proposed redesign of Penn Station and the surrounding area after the developer admitted the plan wasn't viable.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Critics are calling for the end to a proposed redesign of Penn Station and the surrounding area after the developer indicated the plan wasn't feasible.

"We need to throw out the old plan and get a new Penn plan now, or we'll be stuck with the current Penn Station for generations to come," Diana Gonzalez, of Trains Before Towers, said.

Activists and residents testified at a State Senate hearing, demanding that lawmakers scrap the project and start over.

"It is time for the governor and the legislature to emerge from this nightmare and realize that fiscally sound options do exist to upgrade Penn Station. We have wasted too much time already, talking about the wrong things. It is time for a new beginning," Layla Law-Gisiko, of Community Board 5, said.

The concept was unveiled less than a year ago and called for Penn Station to be reimagined along with the residential and commercial blocks surrounding it.

It would have created a gleaming, refurbished rail terminal bordered by ten skyscrapers, each more than one thousand feet tall.

The proposal also sought new luxury apartments, stores and office space to replace the older, more modest buildings that have defined the area for the last half of the 20th Century.

It was a proposed $7 billion-dollar project dependent on tax breaks for Vornado Realty, the developer behind it.

But the company has acknowledged publicly that the current plan is no longer viable.

"We don't need to put up towers as tall as the Empire State Building which we all know aren't really gonna get built, anyway. That revenue is not going to come in because it doesn't come in unless the towers get built. So let's start with figuring Penn Station out," Gonzalez said.

In the end it appears it won't be community opposition but high interest rates and hybrid work scheduled that doomed the original Penn Station plan.

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