Governor Cuomo Advances 20-Million-Square-Foot Empire Station Complex Redevelopment Plan, in Midtown, Manhattan

Scale of Potential Developments in the Empire Station ComplexScale of Potential Developments in the Empire Station Complex

Yesterday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the board of directors of Empire State Development (ESD) had adopted the general project plan for the Empire Station Complex. The drafted plan, supported by a draft Environmental Impact Statement, would foster high-density redevelopment on eight sites surrounding the Penn Station transit hub. The plan is expected to create about 20 million square feet of mixed-use space including Class A commercial office, retail, hotel, and residential, and calls for five supertalls ranging from 1,018 to 1,300 feet in height, in addition to four other major skyscrapers. The area is bounded by Sixth and Ninth Avenues to the east and west, and by West 30th and West 34th Streets to the south and north in Midtown, Manhattan. Moynihan Station, the first step in the revitalization, opened at the end of 2020.

“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,” Governor Cuomo said. “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.”

Empire Station Complex from the Eugene Manhattan West, image by Andrew Campbell Nelson

Empire Station Complex from the Eugene Manhattan West, image by Andrew Campbell Nelson

The plan would also bring forth various public transportation improvements, including new entrances to Penn Station and nearby public transit, and public space improvements to address open space and traffic circulation for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles. The buildings facilitated by the plan will generate revenue for those public transit improvements in the project area.

Map depicts proposed building massing within Empire State Complex - Empire State Development

Map depicts proposed building massing within Empire State Complex – Empire State Development

Three of the eight proposed sites would accommodate an expansion of Penn Station south of the existing structure, which would allow for up to nine additional tracks and five new platforms, stairways, and station entrances, given the above-grade mixed-use developments accommodate that expansion. A Penn Station expansion is part of a separate planning and federal environmental review process, involving the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Amtrak, and the New Jersey Transit Authority.

Next steps for the plan consist of a virtual public hearing on the draft Environmental Impact Statement and General Project Plan on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 from 5:00PM to 8:00PM, followed by a 30-day public comment period. The Empire State Complex project is expected to be completed by 2038.

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34 Comments on "Governor Cuomo Advances 20-Million-Square-Foot Empire Station Complex Redevelopment Plan, in Midtown, Manhattan"

  1. Ok but where is the residential? It’s all offices and hotel? How does this actually help?

    • It states clearly, “The plan is expected to create about 20 million square feet of mixed-use space including Class A commercial office, retail, hotel, and residential”. Also, if you scroll down you’ll see a story about the office to residential conversion of the McGraw Hill building within this same area.

      • Look at the massing models. There is no residential space across the eight sites. They dont even have it as an option in the key. The city needs more housing not more office space.

  2. Terrific ‘aerial’ image here by Mr Nelson.

  3. To develop this area while imagining that the current Madison Sq Garden would remain at it’s center in 2038 is laughable;
    replace MSG with a landmark centerpiece and work out from there.

    • Jersey Transit still operates out of the MSG footprint in Penn Station. While the LIRR and Amtrak could be moved across the street, any substantial redevelopment would be dependent upon Jersey Transit being relocated.

      The expansion of Penn Station a block to the south will primarily affect Jersey Transit and/or Amtrak trains terminating in New York through a connection with the new gateway tunnel. The east river tunnels are under 32nd and 33rd and will be more difficult to access from these new tracks. I would guess that the expansion south would allow Jersey Transit to relocate its operations out of the footprint of MSG and allow the site to be redeveloped.

  4. MSG will eventually be replaced with new towers. But there’s no reason for MSG to hold up Penn Station expansion or the associated towers funding the expansion. MSG is a goner, at some point.

  5. Rebuild Penn Station into a first class gateway to Manhattan and get rid of the MSG eyesore. That should be a priority. Then build the other sections starting with the 9 tracks paying attention to historic structures that are threatened. The development smacks of “Urban Ruinall” and should be modified to fit neighborhood needs as well as development for the good of the city’s residents. The Hotel Pennsylvania is not worth saving but the other structures including the Gimbel’s Bridge are. We need sensitive redevelopment.

  6. Timothy Bambrough | February 20, 2021 at 10:40 am | Reply

    Where will the money come from? The state has a major budget shortfalls yet the Governor wants to move ahead with what he calls his cornerstone project.
    Between the new Madison Square Garden development and Governor Cuomo’s new plan Midtown would be under construction for at least 10 years from the start of either project.
    So the people who live in these neighborhoods will have to continue inground in a construction zone. They have been living in a construction zone already for the last 7 or 8 yrs as the built Hudson Yards.
    The last part of this is we have no idea how many people will be going to an office after the pandemic. Yet all these developers and the Governor want us to believe this is nessasary at a time when it seems like we should wait to we see what the new normal will be before we okay all of this new construction in Midtown.

  7. Countdown to the movement to landmark St. John the Baptist church and save it from a Penn Station style demolition….

  8. This thing has a 1960s ‘urban renewal’ aura about it. The two office towers south of Penn Station might make sense because important new transport infrastructure can be build under them. The rest seems like a misdirection of resources. What will the New York service economy look like in 2040? Is so much new office space needed in Manhattan when it’s an undoubted fact that technology will alter live/work patterns? It’s a bore to say this — and it has nothing to do with how property is financed and developed in New York’s core — but perhaps the dear governor should be thinking more about the affordable housing problem and the public transport issues that really harm New York’s position as a global service center.

  9. I think MSG needs to move west for this to happen with ideal results. This is New York. Projects change and inflate in cost. Plus the Third Term curse has finally bitten Cuomo.

  10. Question, is site #6 (or #7) atop Macy’s? I know that they have been considering a skyscraper to place on the western side of their building and am wondering if that’s included here. Also looks as if Gimbals bridge in the Manhattan Mall could be preserved in site #8.

  11. Although my default position is pro-development, I find it hard to make sense of this project at a time of budget shortfalls when there is also no certainty about what office demand will be like after the pandemic. Expand Penn? Sure. Move the Garden? OK. But if there really is money for these towers, whether from the State, or from private sources, or a combination, let’s use it for housing, which we KNOW there will still be a demand for. (And that’s before even considering that this cluster of giants looks like an aesthetic disaster in the making.)

  12. Make no small plans…even a bad plan is better than no plan. And this is a great plan. Buildings have life spans and these sites are all way past theirs. The developer funding will find their way to earmarks, and if this ever comes to fruition (ala those at Ground Zero), what a statement.

    Second, did y’all think a new Penn Station was to be a monolith unto itself? No, it’s the tip of an iceberg that will be this mega development. Bravo to its authors.

  13. It’s basically all private money. That’s the only way any projects get done these days. LaGuardia…almost all private money. JFK redevelopment…private money. Moynihan Train Hall…again private money. Private sector makes money in return for giving us huge upgrades in our infrastructure. That’s fine with me. Both Terminal B at LGA and Moynihan Train Hall are stunning.

  14. Private sector will adapt to market conditions. Look at the proposed plan for 5 WTC. Almost all is housing. So I’m sure many of these towers will indeed be housing. Which is good for keeping housing costs in this city under control.

  15. Well no matter what is built there wil be profitable if the city doesn’t aggressively address the homeless situation. Many of which use the local methadone clinic. Feces, urine on the streets homelesss and crime will not attract commercial landlords. Additionally, ofdice space will be reduced for companies with remote working in place. But Cuomo is clever this distracts from nursing home debacle.

    • Exactly. Distraction as in, hey look over there. This city has millions of square feet of empty office space already. Hudson yards is still a ghost town and this fool spent every dime this state has on budgets in it’s 9 sanctuary cities.

  16. Just what we need nothing anyone but1 percenters and eliteists can afford in a mimanaged plague riddled city

  17. Hope for great architecture with this opportunity. Please, no Hudson Yards II

  18. David : Sent From Heaven. | February 20, 2021 at 11:30 pm | Reply

    All rights to New York YIMBY belong to a reporter, and must not be repeated for read without its signature: Thank you.

  19. Some of these sites should be preserved, not redeveloped. But 4, 5 and 6 should get built ASAP.

  20. You know what, if some decently designed buildings come out of this, I think this may actually be pretty cool. This is government developed, so it could go either way. But, I do think this is a good project, even though it seems we have three or four of these going on at the same time currently. ☺

  21. the “New” New York doesn’t care one bit about restoring its landmarks. When I first saw that they approved buildings that totally obstruct the view of the Empire State Building from the Lincoln Tunnel entrance across the river I knew we were moving in the wrong direction. Cuomo is a POS, he runs the state government like the mob and collects payouts along the way. I used to love being from this city, it had so much pride in its alleys and corridors and historical landmarks like London or Paris. Now-a-days re-writing the city’s history to accommodate glass monstrosities and bike lanes seem like the norm. I’d give back Hudson Yards for more of New York’s classic 1930’s art deco style and europeanized beauty that took hundreds of years to build 10 times out of 10. New York does not need to look like Dubai in favor of international criminals who need to launder their money through New York real estate. Engineered garbage.

  22. Businesses have been leaving NYC. Remote work has made many offices vacant already. NYC quality of life is at an all time low with crime rising rapidly. There’s more homeless, heroin addicts, and pill poppers then ever before and none of that deters this guy. Get ready for more taxes, more and higher fees for everything, a crumbling mta but we need more partially rented, shiny towers, for what? Mind you, I build these towers for a living but, let’s fix this city first and see if he gets impeached in the meantime

    • “NYC quality of life is at an all time low with crime rising rapidly.”

      Not even close. It was much worse in the 70s and 80s. That said, we are on a steep decline, and declines tend to speed up unless reversed, and nobody on the horizon is even talking about reversing it. Everyone is just doubling and tripling down on what got us here, as if more stupidity will fix the effects of the stupidity.

  23. Perhaps a large portion of this can be lab/wet lab space as well as space for startups. I think this is still an area of commercial space that is underrepresented and needed in NYC. It would make sense as well, since it’s right near the train to the major NJ pharma companies.

  24. I hope that you’ll see a massive rebalance of this project towards resi. Yes commercial should still play a very large component here. Eventually, we’ll be going back to offices, it won’t be the same but the office will still be important.

    The one thing we know we need is more housing, and creating a proper mixed-use development here is a once in a generational opportunity. Imagine turning the 34th street corridor into a thriving 24/7 community instead of just an office core that dies out once everyone leaves? That way the retail would not be so office dependent and far more sustainable.

    You can create thousands of permanently affordable units and thousands more of market-rate that could actually move the needle for the overall market.

  25. Comments on this article about state budget shortfalls completely miss how these types of projects are typically funded. Private investors will pay to develop the properties. The state/city will contribute by providing a) rezonings (i.e. creating air rights that can be sold to the developers), b) abatements on property tax revenue that wouldn’t be there absent the development, c) maybe access to municipal bonds to minimize financing costs for the developers, and d) maybe commitments to lease space for city/state agencies.

    The only direct capital investment that the state/city will likely make would be with respect to building out shared infrastructure and public areas (i.e. trains/subways, roads, sidewalks, etc.)—stuff they plan to build/fix anyway. And you’ve probably got pretty good odds that funds for that will come from the feds one way or another.

    The government isn’t funding this development out of its budget, plain and simple.

    This is great news for NYC and Cuomo is doing a fantastic job lining these projects up (Empire Station, Gateway, Port Authority Bus Terminal, LaGuardia, etc.) for whenever Biden gets around to his infrastructure bill.

  26. Eminent Domain. Land Grab.

  27. Samuel Turvey | March 5, 2021 at 4:03 pm | Reply

    I made a post a week ago which still hasn’t appeared. This happened to me last time but I received some style of indication it was being reviewed. My points are not so radical that they warrant censure and a more even tempered than Dan’s from 2/26 above. Am I missing something?

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