Gov. Kathy Hochul’s controversial plans to overhaul Penn Station and surrounding areas took a key step forward on Wednesday — winning approval for her state-city funding deal.
The unanimous vote of the three-member Public Authorities Control Council moves the proposal forward despite lingering questions about how the plan is funded and who foots the bill.
“Today’s vote is not the final word on this massive undertaking. Future review and votes will be required, both by the PACB and the MTA Capital Program Review Board,” said Sen. Leroy Comrie, who represents the state Senate on the panel, after the vote.
The three voting members of the panel are nominated by Hochul, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
There are still additional approvals that will have to pass the PACB to rebuild the aging transit hub, among the world’s busiest, at a later date – meaning Wednesday’s vote is not final approval for the massive project.
Skeptics of the plan said after the vote they would continue efforts to push the Hochul administration to change its approach to Penn Station.
“That means a lot more guaranteed affordable housing and no unnecessary tax breaks that reward developers for building projects they wanted to build anyway. It also means real transparency and community contribution, prioritizing the needs of existing residents and ensuring that the public realm, the neighborhood and the city as a whole derive meaningful benefits,” said Senators Liz Krueger, Brad Hoylman and Robert Jackson. in a statement after the vote.
The Hochul-backed plans would have Vornado Realty Trust play a key role in funding parts of Penn Station’s overhaul by providing the state with so-called “payments in lieu of taxes,” which would be used to raise more money by borrowing.
Real estate mogul Steven Roth, who runs Vornado, donated $69,700 months ago to Hochul’s gubernatorial campaign, which championed Penn’s rebuilding plans after taking over from the ex-governor plagued by scandals. Andrew Cuomo last year.
The state would reimburse the city for some lost tax revenue that could total about $5 billion, according to an agreement reached between Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams.
Critics of the plan, however, say more details are needed before the PACB gives full approval to an overhaul of Penn Station and the surrounding area estimated to be worth around $7 billion or more.
Additional funding details will be key to gaining final approval of the PACB’s unanimous endorsement to go ahead with Penn’s plans, according to Comrie.
“I will not vote in favor of future PILOT agreements for individual above-ground buildings in this project footprint until we have obtained the necessary federal approvals and a fair share of federal and New Jersey funding,” said he said in a statement on Wednesday. .