Penn Station Boondoggle Edition – Streetsblog New York City

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Lipstick, meet pig.

Monday’s big news was a cheerleader Press release of Governor Hochul hailing the “contract” she and Mayor Adams had signed on the distribution of the supposed benefits of the real estate deal that will fund (but not fund) the full rehabilitation of Penn Station from a sewer to a world-class transit hub.

The “deal” is one of those classic deals where politicians brag about having created so much new money that the only challenge is figuring out how to distribute all the wealth. (Reminder: these deals always end up failing to deliver on their lofty promises.)

Our friends at Reinvent Albany have been sounding the alarm for months (most recently with a scientific disassembly of the deal, which will enrich Vornado more than it enriches the public), but was joined on Tuesday morning by the editorial board of the Daily News, which published a three-part critique of the scheme:

  • First part followed the Reinvent Albany report and argued that the deal’s finances don’t add up. The best line? “Calling this math slapdash insults the back of the envelopes. »
  • Part II stuck to the newspaper’s longstanding support for fixing existing tunnels between New Jersey and New York before building new ones. This is a bit of a side issue for us, as we’re not about to discuss engineering when so many other issues are in play.
  • Part III returned to a big problem with the redevelopment of Penn Station: transparency. In sum? “[Hochul’s] Penn Station’s financing plan, while failing to produce the billions promised to fix Penn, is maddeningly opaque. The city’s independent budget office couldn’t even calculate public figures, because there aren’t any.

Like the News and Reinvent Albany, transit advocates remain stunned that so few details are known to the public ahead of Thursday’s Empire State Development board meeting, where the project’s overall plan is expected to be approved. . It’s unclear how much each element of the project will cost – the Penn Station renovation, Penn Station expansion, walkway tunnels and supposed public realm improvements; we don’t know the total calorie count of the sweetheart handed over to Vornado; we don’t know how much taxpayers will have to pay; and, more importantly, we don’t like the line in Hochul’s press release that only talks about the “potential the expansion of Penn Station,” since we believe train traffic and other improvements to connect the region’s disparate transit systems are so crucial.

All the newspapers (except the Times) spoke about it in their own way:

  • daily news focused on developer benefits and opaque math.
  • The post office focused on how the state will have to reimburse the city for lost tax revenue.
  • amNY played it more or less straight, but couldn’t hide that the numbers don’t add up.
  • gothamist also came clean, but quoted the mayor as essentially offering hopes and prayers: “We know the devil is always in the details; we are still mapping it, but we believe this project is a much needed improvement in the Penn Station area.

Let’s see if this runaway train can derail.

In other news:

  • Former mayor de Blasio is still struggling in his race for a congressional seat drawn to elect a progressive (New York Post, PoliticsNY). Perhaps it could generate a little traction if he only put a few campaign positions on his site? Meanwhile, the candidates will debate environmental issues at Cooper Union tonight. (Transportation Alternatives)
  • Another reason the MTA needs to reopen subway restrooms? Train n°3 really becomes train n°1 and n°2. (The city)
  • A Parks Department employee driving a Ford F-250 killed a man who was sleeping on the beach at Coney Island. (New York Post, gothamist, press day)
  • The post office had a second day of dehumanizing a homeless man who lives on the Manhattan Bridge.
  • A motorcyclist hit a pedestrian in Harlem. (NYDN)
  • The Association of the regional plan wants to beat the car parks in biowees. (gothamist)
  • Speaking of parking, Crain’s did an article on the garage industry that included this interesting comment from David Schwartz, whose company, Slate Property Group Principal, builds affordable housing: “Many developers wouldn’t build a parking lot if they didn’t have it not obliged. I wouldn’t build most of my garages if I didn’t have to. Welcome to the car war, David!
  • Take a moment to tell the DOT what you think of the bike paths in Flatbush and East Flatbush. (SurveyMonkey)
  • The post office had a video of when an FDNY first responder broke his leg when a car fell on him.
  • Finally, if you didn’t know it rained yesterday, all you had to do was take the metro. (New York Post, gothamist, Subway Creatures via Twitter). In addition, a heat wave is coming. (NY Times)

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