Massive Empire State Complex Gains Key Political Support

New York Governor Kathy Hochul is backing one of the largest real estate development projects in U.S. history—larger even than the nearby Hudson Yards project.

2 minute read

September 5, 2022, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

New York City

faithie / Shutterstock

New York Gov Kathy Hochul has signed off on a massive redevelopment plan for the area of Manhattan around Penn Station, according to a New York Times article by Matthew Haag and Patrick McGeehan.

The so-called Empire Station Complex would build ten towers of mostly offices around Penn Station, the busiest transit hub in the country. Haag and McGeehan describe the scope of the plan as follows:

Boosters of the Penn Station plan often frame the fixes at the station, which are estimated to cost $7 billion and be completed by 2027, as the project’s centerpiece. The plan would add taller ceilings and new entrances to the station but no additional tracks or platforms. But the plan’s most significant impact would be the new buildings, which are expected to take two decades to complete and require the demolition of numerous properties on several blocks, including a 150-year-old Roman Catholic church.

There project will make quite a neighborhood:

By 2044, when the last of the Penn Station redevelopment towers are slated to be finished, the project and Hudson Yards will very nearly form a contiguous corridor of gleaming glass and steel towers. Between 30th and 34th Streets, clusters of some of the tallest buildings in North America will stretch from Sixth Avenue near the Empire State Building to the eastern edge of the undeveloped train yards that border the West Side Highway. Together the two areas would represent over 30 million square feet of buildings, with the vast majority designed for office tenants.

Gov. Hochul is backing the plan in a time of deep uncertainty for the office market in Manhattan and other urban centers around the country, with many workers transitioning permanently to remote work or working hybrid schedules that have left many downtowns bereft of vitality and economic activity.

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo originally proposed the redevelopment project back at the beginning of 2021. Empire State Redevelopment voted unanimously to support the project in July 2021. Gov. Hochul's support for the project will be instrumental in wielding state power to override the local zoning code to allow developers to "build taller and larger than they otherwise could have," according to the article.

As noted in the article, however, the project is attracted fierce opposition. As an example: David Meyers reports in a separate article for the New York Post that opponents held a mock funeral for the buildings that will be razed to make way for the project last week across the street from Penn Station.

Thursday, September 29, 2022 in The New York Times

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