A group of state senators representing New York City counties want the state to end Gov. Kathy Hochul Redevelopment of the Penn Station area until the project’s finances can be analyzed by the city’s independent budget office, The Post has learned.
The senators – who collectively represent the majority of the city’s delegation – want the project to fund station renovations with taxes on 10 new office towers that have been halted over a lack of clarity over their details, they said in a letter to the board of the Empire on Wednesday State Development Corp.
“Critical information about the proposed Penn Station deal has still not been made available to taxpayers and lawmakers to ensure their dollars are being spent wisely and their city is being developed intelligently,” the group wrote.
“What happens if the expected rents don’t come in? Will taxpayers still be hooked?”
The bill to pay for the project must be released before the state moves forward, senators said — including whether developer Vornado Realty Trust will receive tax subsidies under the plan and how much tax revenue the city will lose due to the state’s plan, Use taxes on the new buildings to fund the station renovation.
“We urge Empire State Development (ESD) to halt this plan pending explanations and agreements regarding cost, design, scope, bond liabilities and other aspects of the project that remain unknown,” it said in the writing. “Far too many questions remain for the board to make an informed decision.”
Hochul inherited Cuomo’s efforts. In November, she said the state had reduced the size of the towers by 7 percent — but didn’t reverse Cuomo’s plan to bypass the city’s zoning process to confiscate and demolish privately owned buildings.
“We don’t know what the Penn Station portion of the project will cost. The numbers seem to be moving,” said State Senator Liz Krueger, the letter’s lead signer. “You could be talking billions and billions of dollars here.”
Good government groups recently called the project a “secret maneuver” to divert an estimated $5 billion away from the city and into the treasury. City officials have been told that the city will be “made complete for current taxes,” according to Empire State Development.
Neighborhood activists are also upset that the plan will bypass the city’s signature zoning process known as ULURP — a point echoed by senators.
“There is not enough transparency on the Penn project,” said State Senator Leroy Comrie (D-Queens), who signed the letter and chairs the committee overseeing ESD. “This project cannot be accomplished without more community input.”
Vornado, which will construct and manage the new building, is owned by Steven Roth, one of the top political donors to candidates like Donald Trump and Hochul himself.
A representative for ESD said the agency received the senators’ letter and that ESD will not vote on the project until the state and city agree on a tax framework.
“To be clear, repairing Penn Station and improving the surrounding neighborhood can’t wait,” spokeswoman Kirstin Devoe said in a statement. “We appreciate the Senators’ letter and commit to continuing productive discussions with all stakeholders as we continue to review and evolve the plan.” Together we can create a fair framework that provides the public benefits that New Yorkers have been denied for far too long.”
https://nypost.com/2022/03/10/ny-state-sens-call-for-review-of-penn-station-redesign/ NY State Sens calls for review of Penn Station redesign