NYC must stop Governor Cuomo’s plan to demolish area around Penn Station

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Say this for Andrew Cuomo: He’s a full-service governor when it comes to wrecking New York City. 

Send thousands to lonely deaths in nursing homes? Check. Appoint pals to the parole board who set killers free? Check. 

Lock down restaurants and cinemas while they’re open everywhere else in the state? Check. 

Give female aides a hands-on lesson in Albany governance? Go for it! 

Now he’s targeted an entire Manhattan neighborhood for mass destruction. Namely, his witless folly known as the Empire Station Complex, a multi-billion-dollar corruption-cooker in the Penn Station area. Call it Andrew Cuomo’s God Complex. He answers not to New Yorkers whom he’s supposed to serve, but only to the whims of his towering arrogance. 

The scheme would demolish much of the Penn Station/Madison Square Garden neighborhood to dig holes for white-elephant towers to rise from. Although it’s under fire from frightened local residents and from pols who smell blood in Cuomo’s water, it’s been mostly eclipsed in the public eye by the governor’s every other scandal of the day. But that might change now that the gov is flexing his macho muscle. He’s demanding that the state budget include $1.3 billion in bonding authority to kick-start the boondoggle, lest he hold up the entire $200 billion-plus spending package. 

The land-grab will be Cuomo’s most ruinous stroke to the Big Apple if it isn’t stopped in its tracks right now. It’s psycho from the ground up. For starters, it rests on throwing apartment renters and owners into the street — oops, “eminent domain” — and paying them peanuts for their trouble. If fully built, it would also boot businesses that provide 9,000 jobs and a half-dozen buildings worthy of landmark designation. Such wholesale devastation was once called “urban renewal,” the cruel likes of which we haven’t seen since Robert Moses drove expressways through Brooklyn and Bronx neighborhoods. 

Under state law, eminent domain is meant to be used only to remove “blighted” properties. The term once signified vacant land or dangerous slums, but to Cuomo it means anything that stands in the way of his massive ego. 

And for what? The plan would yield nearly 20 million square feet in 10 new towers, most of them for offices, between Sixth and Ninth avenues and West 30th and West 34th streets. 

What planet does Cuomo inhabit? Sure, we all want to be optimistic about the city’s post-pandemic future. Sure, the office market will come back — but by how much? Manhattan’s existing 450 million square feet of offices stand 85 percent empty and nobody has any idea when, and how many, employees will return. 

Yet Cuomo wants to add more than 14 million square feet of offices in ten new towers, one of them as tall as the Empire State Building. 

The “complex” is supposed to generate tax dollars for improving Penn Station. Wait, you say — didn’t the new Moynihan Train Hall, which Cuomo championed, already do that? Nope: It’s a nice piece of architecture but near-empty. Rail riders who can now board and leave trains a block west prefer to use the original rathole that’s closer to Midtown’s heart. 

Five of the new office towers would be built by Vornado Realty Trust, which owns many of the sites and whose chairman, Steven Roth, personally donated $384,000 to Cuomo’s election campaigns. Roth long wanted to demolish the Hotel Pennsylvania for a skyscraper but never went ahead due to a lack of tenants and an uninviting location. That could change thanks to Cuomo, as he’d surround the new tower with “public realm improvements” as part of a master plan for the area. 

Could this all smell, just a teeny bit, like a conflict of interest? 

As The Post’s Dana Kennedy reported, terrified neighbors caught on to the fact that their homes could be taken from them by state or federal agencies. The neighborhood’s funky but highly functional character is at risk, too. 

Nobody would weep over losing the Hotel Pennsylvania or the shopping wasteland of Manhattan Mall. But there are many worthy and colorful businesses in Cuomo’s crosshairs: a thriving Forever 21 store, a rare, surviving Blarney Stone, Tracks oyster bar, and DP Handmade Cigars. To say nothing of Touro College’s Graduate School of Education; creative, tech and media companies in reconditioned Garment-era buildings; and 140-year-old St. John the Baptist Church on West 30th street. 

Meanwhile, Cuomo’s plan offers no direction on the Penn area’s elephant in the room — the fate of Madison Square Garden, whose lease with the city expires in 2023. 

There’s a glimmer of hope. Although the proposal doesn’t require formal city approval — the state can override city zoning and size-and-height rules — it faces public hearings, environmental review and inevitable lawsuits. Enough of a stink might stall the steamroller until Cuomo’s out of office. 

Let’s hope Albany lawmakers and ordinary New Yorkers dynamite this atrocity before the bulldozers show up.

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