Penn Station

New York City's Next Empire State Building-Sized Tower Could Be ‘PENN 15'

The proposed structure, still awaiting approval, recently found opposition from elected leaders who asked for more information and review time

The sun sets on the skyline of midtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building, One Vanderbilt and the Chrysler Building in New York City
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One of New York City's most traveled transit hubs is the focus of a 20-million-square-foot improvement project that includes the construction of a building nearly equal in size to the Empire State Building.

The Empire Station Complex plan -- dubbed by the governor a "21st century transit complex on Manhattan's West Side" -- intends to build upon Penn Station, in addition to the newly reopened Moynihan Train Hall unveiled last December. The governor announced the plan in January as part of his week-long State of the State address.

THE CITY reported last week that the Cuomo administration's efforts to push the plan forward are tied to a $1.3 billion appropriation deal proposed in the state budget, in addition to "revenue generated by a massive real estate deal in the surrounding blocks." The governor and state Legislature have yet to agree on a budget after missing the April 1 deadline.

The Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue and 34th Street has finally been transformed into the Moynihan Train Hall, which harkens back to the grandeur of the previous version of Penn Station. NBC New York's Andrew Siff reports.

"The other components of the Governor’s vision are a reimagined and expanded Penn Station, currently being planned by the MTA in conjunction with Amtrak and NJ Transit, to increase platform capacity by approximately 40 percent," the project overview on the state's website explains.

Part of the plans to build up the city blocks surrounding Penn Station include the addition of 10 large-scale buildings eyed for completion by 2038, according to THE CITY. PENN 15 is one of those buildings.

Vornado Realty Trust has ownership or controlling interest in most of "The Penn Project" sites -- which make up office space, retail hotel, and potentially residential space -- and are all intended to connect back to Penn Station, according to the state's General Project Plan.

Rendered diagrams from Vornado have PENN 15 earmarked for the corner of 7th Avenue and 33rd Street. The tower would be comparable in size to the Empire State Building and offers 2.8 million square feet in rentable space.

The developers describe PENN 15 as a "super-tall tower that will become the new standard for office design" in the city and "features a unique side core design to allow for flexible office configurations and terraces on every fourth floor to maximize access to light and air."

In order to see PENN 15, or the any of the other earmarked projects, the plan must be approved by the Empire State Development Corporation. Opposition to the plan surfaced in recent weeks from elected officials concerned about transparency and inadequate review time.

Representatives Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, Manhattan Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Manhattan state Senators Brad Hoylman and Robert Jackson, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer - who all sit on the board - sent a letter to the governor on March 26 asking for a delay, according to the New York Post.

“We cannot have a plan for the area around Penn Station and not have a clear understanding, let alone agreement, on what happens to Penn Station,” the letter said, in part. By and large, the group still supports a plan to make improvements to "Penn Station and the surrounding area."

The Empire State Development Corporation has scheduled a public hearing on the Empire Station Complex project for May 12.

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