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The $3 billion Penn plan isn’t really a full financing plan, but just a request to developers. Developers would pay the cost of the renovation to the old post office, the cost of overhauling what is now the MSG theater to bring in outside light, etc., in return for being able to build commercial and retail.
This is not a bad idea, but it’s important to remember that this idea has been around for two decades; in fact, the Pataki administration chose developers to do this, and it never happened. Presumably, Cuomo would not do the request if he didn’t think there was real developer interest today, and we are a different city than we were 10 years ago, so, we’ll see. If developers can do this, then great.
But, it doesn’t solve Penn’s real problems, which are capacity (not enough room for trains) and the fact that the tunnel coming into Penn is badly deteriorated. So, all we are doing is very expensive cosmetic changes—maybe very good ones, but that is still all they are. No developer is going to pay for the real capacity upgrades that Penn needs, and Cuomo still hasn’t said where he’ll get the estimated $5 billion New York State contribution for those projects.
Nicole Gelinas is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.