Governor Cuomo announced today that Empire State Development's Board of Directors has adopted a General Project Plan (GPP) and certified the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Empire Station Complex. The draft plan is a comprehensive, high-density, transit-oriented redevelopment proposition that would generate the revenue needed to finally overhaul and expand Penn Station as well as other transit facilities in the area.
Key to the proposal is the rezoning of eight Midtown West development sites in the project area generally bounded by Sixth and Ninth Avenues to the east and west, and by West 30th and West 34th Streets to the south and north. The plan paves the way for 10 new mixed-use towers that would play host to approximately 20 million gross square feet of Class A commercial office, retail, hotel, and perhaps residential space. This is roughly double the amount of gross square footage currently allowed on the eight sites.
The development of project sites 1, 2, and 3 would be funded by private developers, with one or more of the rail transportation entities (MTA, Amtrak or NJT) providing/arranging funds for any transportation-related improvements. These three sites would be required to accommodate the potential expansion of Penn Station into the blocks south of the existing station, allowing for the creation of new, below-grade tracks and platforms.
The development of project sites 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 would be funded by Vornado Realty Trust. The developer currently has a controlling interest totaling about 887,000 square feet, or 63 percent, of the land acreage within the subject area. In January they debuted an updated plan for their holdings, better known as The Penn District. The district includes a 1,200-foot high tower from Foster + Partners.
While there would be limits placed on the overall floor area of each building, there will be no height restrictions, except for a midblock portion of Site 1, where a 400-foot cap would be imposed. Officials note that this is in line with zoning used in other high-density commercial areas of NYC.
In addition to the handful of skyline-changing towers, the plan would also introduce a number of public transportation improvements, including new entrances and access ways to Penn Station and nearby public transit, and public space improvements that include more open space, better pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular circulation, as well as general enhancements to the streetscape.
"New York has repeatedly proven that government can still successfully deliver transformational infrastructure projects that are not only on-time and on-budget, but withstand the test of time," Cuomo said in a press release. "The Moynihan Train Hall's successful completion was a milestone, but it's only the first step in a neighborhood-wide revitalization. The Empire Station Complex project represents the next great investment in our efforts to rebuild and expand this crucial piece of our state's infrastructure and will support economic growth in New York City and across the entire state."
The DEIS estimates that the project will be finished and wholly operational by 2038; this includes all the commercial developments and the expansion of Penn Station.
A virtual public hearing on the DEIS and GPP will take place on Tuesday, March 23, 2021, from 5:00PM to 8:00PM, followed by a 30-day public comment period. Members of the public interested in participating must register here. Additionally, registration information and detailed instructions related to the virtual public hearing are available on ESD's website. The public can also submit comments to ESD by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments must be received by 5:00PM on Friday, April 23, 2021.
Empire Station Complex is part of Cuomo's broader Midtown West redevelopment efforts, announced as part of the 2021 State of the State agenda. Other elements of the governor's vision for Midtown West are extending the High Line, replacing the Port Authority Bus Terminal, transforming Pier 76 from a tow pound to a waterfront park, and an expansion of the Javits Center now wrapping construction.
- Midtown West (Urbanize NYC)