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Penn Station Revamp Would Face City Land Use Process Under New Bill

Rendering of the proposed upgrade to Penn Station

Legislators are looking to wrest control of the future of the Penn Station upgrade away from the governor and hand it over to the city.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who represents part of Manhattan, is sponsoring a bill that would require the project to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure instead of falling under the purview of the state, The Real Deal reports. The redevelopment is spearheaded by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and is currently working under a General Project Plan, which means it would not have to adhere to local zoning rules.

“Someone needs to shine a spotlight on this because this is one of the most far-reaching development plans in the city’s history with no public votes being taken,” Hoylman told TRD. “New York City should have a say in its future, in areas as crucial as Midtown.”

A memo for the bill noted using the ULURP would protect local community interests and ensure they have input on what goes forward. Earlier this month, the MTA, Amtrak and NJ Transit released two new construction plans for the station, which served 600,000 commuters each day before the coronavirus pandemic.

Under Cuomo’s plan, New York State would fund the $16B rebuilding of Penn Station through the development of 10 new office towers in the area. Mayor Bill de Blasio has described that plan, which has garnered criticism from lawmakers who question if office supertalls are what the city needs, as a “land grab that relies on overriding city rules,” per The New York Times.

And last month, $1.3B for the development of the station was only approved with the caveat it not be for above-ground development, throwing cold water on redevelopment plans for much of the surrounding area, which is owned by Vornado.