Towering Over Midtown: The Penn Station Super-Talls
Good morning. It’s Tuesday. Today we’ll look at the massive real estate project that New York State wants to build around Pennsylvania Station and where those buildings would rank among the city’s tallest. Also, we examine a source of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign donations.
Credit…Zack DeZon for The New York Times
Gov. Kathy Hochul is betting on a legacy-defining project that would transform Midtown Manhattan with 10 new towers surrounding Penn Station, the busiest transit hub in North America and possibly the most roundly disliked. The project will take about two decades to complete, with the last building opening in 2044, the state said.
There is a lot we still don’t know about the development, including the buildings’ exact dimensions, but New York State says they will not have a height limit except on one site. Fortunately, the state has published a few renderings of the site, with the towers drawn to scale to how they could be built, so we can extrapolate possible heights.
Eight of the 10 towers would rise more than 1,000 feet, all of them located east of Eighth Avenue. Two buildings that would be on the west side of Eighth Avenue, just south of the new Moynihan Trail Hall, would be far shorter, between 400 and 875 feet tall. Those two buildings would house most of the residential units included in the project.
The other eight buildings would be huge, even by Manhattan standards, and would rank among the tallest not just in the city but in all of the United States. By my calculation (using Photoshop’s handy Ruler Tool), the tallest would be Site 7, stretching skyward about 1,900 feet, at Seventh Avenue between West 32nd and West 33rd Streets. That would be taller than One World Trade, currently the tallest building in the city, at 1,776 feet, a nod to the year when the Declaration of Independence was signed.
Site 7 would be almost entirely offices, and the property is owned by Vornado Realty Trust, a publicly traded company that owns another four properties that would be redeveloped. If it reaches 1,900 feet, Site 7 would be the fifth-tallest in the world and the tallest outside Asia and the Middle East, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
Two other huge buildings would be built just south of Penn Station, on West 31st Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The farthest east building on that block, known as Site 2B, could reach 1,725 feet tall. That building would also have nearly 2.9 million square feet of space, nearly all of it dedicated to offices, making it bigger than the nearby Empire State Building.
What are the tallest buildings in New York City? Here are the city’s five tallest towers in the office and residential categories, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
1. One World Trade, 1,776 feet. (Sixth-tallest overall in the world.)
2. One Vanderbilt, 1,400 feet
3. 30 Hudson Yards, 1,270 feet.
4. Empire State Building, 1,250 feet.
5. Bank of America Tower, 1,200 feet.
1. Central Park Tower, 1,550 feet. (Sixth-tallest residential building in the world.)
2. 111 West 57th, 1,428 feet.
3. 432 Park Avenue, 1,396 feet.
4. 53 West 53rd, 1,050 feet.
5. One57, 1,004 feet.
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In effect until Sept. 5 (Labor Day).
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Hochul finds a new fund-raising source close to home
Gov. Kathy Hochul has raised tens of millions of dollars for her re-election campaign. A sliver of that has come from sources close to home: appointees to state boards who were named by her predecessor, Andrew M. Cuomo, along with their family members.
Jay Root, a New York Times reporter in Albany, dug through Ms. Hochul’s campaign donations and discovered that 40 donations totaling more than $475,000 were made by members of boards or commissions, or their family members.
Some of the largest donations were made by Don Capoccia, a developer whom Mr. Cuomo appointed to the Battery Park City Authority in 2011, and Joe Belluck, a lawyer who was chosen by Mr. Cuomo for two statewide panels, and his wife. Ms. Hochul appointed Mr. Belluck to the state’s new Cannabis Advisory Board in June.
New York State has a longstanding executive order, which Ms. Hochul reissued on her first day in office, which disallows such donations to avoid the slightest appearance of rewarding donors with jobs in exchange for contributions.
However, Ms. Hochul has appeared to have found a loophole: The donors were appointed by Mr. Cuomo, not herself. Advocates for good governance tell Mr. Root that for the public, that may be a distinction without a difference.
“It’s a silly argument to say if I appointed you then you can’t contribute to me, but if my predecessor appointed you, then I can hit you up for donations,” said Bruce Green, a professor at Fordham University Law School and a former member of the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board.
Ms. Hochul’s campaign said that the donations were fair game and aboveboard. A campaign spokesman, Jerrel Harvey, said that she had not accepted money from people she appointed
“We’ve been clear from the beginning of Governor Hochul’s term that people who are appointed by her are prevented from donating once they are appointed,” Mr. Harvey said.
Mr. Belluck, who along with his wife donated $90,000 to the governor’s campaign, dismissed any suggestion that there was impropriety in the donation.
“I receive no remuneration and do no business with the state, period,” Mr. Belluck said. “I have no private interests related to these positions. I donate to Governor Hochul because I support her policies and admire her leadership, and I am honored to serve.”
On the Metro-North from New Haven
Thank God the rain held off, thank God for May,
the good coffee, the shuttle that came on time,
a window seat facing southeast with a double wall outlet,
the way the penciled eyebrows of the woman across from me
rise like index fingers bowing to each other,
the way the restroom door slides shut without a hand,
the way the man in athletic black bends low over his phone
as if paying a deep obeisance to an unseen deity,
perhaps the god of thunderbolts and rain,
or could he be withdrawing money from his 401(k)
to pay the next installment on his daughter’s braces,
the way the car becomes a quiet keep as it coasts
into Old Greenwich or is it Riverside or perhaps Cos Cob,
Cos Cob the town where all good stuff happens.
At last we unpack at Grand Central Terminal
like avocados perfectly ripe and ready to eat.
Under a Grecian sky I gaze up at Aquarius of Troy,
Zeus’s anointed water boy tilting a gold cup,
both hands cradling its bowl as he pours stars all over us.
— Judith O’Connell Hoyer
Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.
Glad we could get together here. See you tomorrow. — M.H.
P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.
Melissa Guerrero and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at email@example.com.