Empire State Development board approves overhaul for Penn Station and its circumambient neighborhood

The saga surrounding the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Station and its peripheries moved, slightly, forward yesterday when New York’s economic development agency, the Empire State Development (ESD), unanimously voted in favor of the Midtown Manhattan megaproject. In its current iteration—a version pared back late last year when Governor Kathy Hochul took office—the still-ambitious scheme will comprise up to 18 million square feet, with eight plots slated for redevelopment.

Under the approved plan most of the new constructions in the so-called Empire Station Complex will be dedicated to commercial space, including offices and retail, spread across 10 skyscrapers to form an office-centric neighborhood on par with nearby Hudson Yards. The plan also includes 1,800 housing units, a hotel, and a long-overdue renovation to Penn Station, recently dubbed a “hellhole” by Hochul.

For decades the project has been subject to outcries over redevelopment—and overdevelopment—that disturbs the area’s history and fabric. It began in 1963 when the original Pennsylvania Station was demolished to construct the rounded entertainment complex Madison Square Garden.