August 8, 2023
Albany, NY

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul is a Guest on NY1’s Inside City Hall

Audio & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul is a Guest on NY1’s Inside City Hall

Governor Hochul: “It's the largest armory in the nation and it's been vacant for over 30 years. . .the community wants something to happen. . .the Mayor and I worked together, as we have on many issues. We each contributed $100 million to jumpstart this. . .I do want to see jobs, I want to see workforce training and the property around there might lend itself to more investment in housing. . .And so, I think it's very exciting and long overdue.”

Hochul: “I've put forth a plan to build 800,000 units over the next decade. . .I’m ready to move ahead again this year. But in the meantime, I'm not sitting there waiting. I said, I'm going to identify all the executive actions that I, as a governor can take,including creating a discretionary fund. . .$650 million that's available for communities to apply for. But they can't just apply for it unless they've agreed to be a pro housing community.”

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul was a guest on NY1’s Inside City Hall.

AUDIO of the interview is available here.

A rush transcript of the interview is available below:

Errol Louis, NY 1: Welcome back to Inside City Hall. As we told you before the break, state and city officials are trying to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory which has been sitting vacant for decades. At the same time, Governor Hochul has been trying to address the state's housing crisis with executive actions and new developments around the state. The need for more housing comes as the city's shelter population continues to grow exponentially with the arrival of thousands of migrants from the southern border. Here with me to talk about this exclusively, we've got Governor Hochul. Welcome back, always good to see you.

Governor Hochul: Thank you. Great to see you again, Errol.

Errol Louis, NY 1: Let me start with this $200 million that you and the Mayor were proposing for a potential developer to turn around the Kingsbridge Armory, 860,000 square feet of available space. What are some of your priorities and do they include housing?

Governor Hochul: Well, it's the largest armory in the nation and it's been vacant for over 30 years, just this hulking structure sitting there and really mocking the community because the community wants something to happen. And there's been a lot of plans over years and nothing materialized. So, the Mayor and I worked together, as we have on many issues. We each contributed $100 million to jumpstart this, and literally, there's going to be an RFP process starting in September. RFPs are due back in December, showing our urgency and desire to get this done on a fast track.

And then we're looking for sustainable engineering. We're talking about manufacturing, we're talking about even film production could work there as well. And try even farming, urban farming. So, the community came forward with over 4,000 people surveyed on what they want to see there. So, this opens, unlocks the potential. I do want to see jobs, I want to see workforce training and the property around there might lend itself to more investment in housing. The building itself, not housing because of its size, but thousands of jobs can be created right there. And it will be built with union work. And we're looking for people to use community partners to do the work themselves. And so, I think it's very exciting and long overdue.

Errol Louis, NY 1: And people have 200 million reasons to figure it out now.

Governor Hochul: Yes, they do.

Errol Louis, NY 1: Which is great. Let's talk a little bit about housing. You're in different locations, sort of making good on the promise that we first heard, right here of getting some housing built even if the legislature is not cooperating, even if some localities are not cooperating. I saw the latest is Avalon, an apartment building at the Harrison train station in Westchester. I know that area, 143 apartments, seven of them subsidized. Not perfect, but better than nothing. How did that process come about? How'd you make that happen?

Governor Hochul: Well, let's talk about the overall process. You know, I've put forth a plan to build 800,000 units over the next decade. It was bold, it was ambitious, and not without controversy because change is hard for people.

So, we listened during the process to objections. A lot of it was a fundamental misunderstanding of what we were trying to accomplish. And I'm hearing now as we do our round tables, our listening sessions, in Westchester, Long Island, that we're starting to win the hearts and minds over. And I need the Legislature, which again, listens to their constituents, I understand that, but if they can roll up their sleeves with me this time - they weren't ready for it last year - I’m ready to move ahead again this year. But in the meantime, I'm not sitting there waiting. I said, I'm going to identify all the executive actions that I, as a governor can take, including creating a discretionary fund, in a sense, to reward the good behavior – $650 million that's available for communities to apply for. But they can't just apply for it unless they've agreed to be a pro housing community.

What does that mean? That information we announce next week, but it's basically you'll show us your growth plan, share data with us - are you going to be doing rezonings? Pass a commitment that you're going to make to us if you want to get in line for this discretionary funding. We'll prioritize those communities.

Also, I've said we're going to look at every inch of state-owned property. Let's look at more properties along rail lines, Metro North, Long Island Railroad, where MTA might own a parking lot. That's what Avalon was. It was an MTA parking lot. And now it has, we'll have hundreds of people living in the area, Starbucks and other retail on the first floor. I saw a dog park right there. It's gorgeous. So, when people say, "We don't want change," when someone comes and sees this and says, “My community could have that as opposed to a parking lot,” I think we're going to start changing people's minds and that's what I'm really excited about.

Errol Louis, NY 1: Okay. Congratulations on that. Let's talk about the migrant crisis you're helping out. We saw that the Creedmoor Psychiatric site, as well as Randall’s Island, are now being put into play. I understand that you may have some progress to announce on Floyd Bennett Field. I know that you were looking at that.

Governor Hochul: Yes. That's a federal facility. Yes, we have, and this is where the conversations started with the White House literally 13 months ago. Mayor Adams and I have been teamed up since then when we started seeing the influx – 5,000, 7,000, 10,000 last July – and we knew there were different things we needed from the federal government.

One: more money. Now, I always can use more money, and I believe they'll be putting in a request for supplemental dollars in a package that also includes funding for Ukraine. This is what I learned yesterday. We'll see whether that materializes. And we need the Republicans to get on board with that.

Secondly, we've asked them for space. Identify all the DOD, Department of Defense, and GSA properties that they have their hands on. So, in my conversations, which are literally daily, daily conversations with the White House, how are you making out? What's going on? They are sending a five-person assessment team any day now, perhaps tomorrow, to come and look at their properties and identify with my team and the mayor's team, will they be places that we can house people? Floyd Bennett Field could literally house 2,000 people. Now, that would be on top of what we're doing at Creedmoor, 1,000, what we're doing at the former Lincoln Correctional Facility where we've already spent the money to clean up. There are people there, 1000. Randall’s Island, the State is paying for that.

So, we're trying to do large scale properties that we'll pick up the cost for, and it is far more expensive than anyone had imagined. But this is on top of the billion-dollar commitment that I worked on with the legislature. I have a feeling we're going to need another billion dollars next year, and I'm also trying to just be supportive with continuing nearly 2,000 National Guard. They're not free. We have to pay their salaries. They've been embedded since I declared an emergency in the state back in May. Now, I'm glad to see other governors are doing the same. I saw my friend Maura Healey did this in Massachusetts. I think they have 5,500 people. So, the scale is quite different.

But we've got a real challenge on our hands, and we do not want to have people having to be in the streets of New York. I literally sat down with the Mayor once again this morning, talked to him last night. We are joined together in solving this. First of all, it is a federal problem. People are coming here because of the border situation and people's desire to seek asylum. But what is the missing link here, Errol, and this could change everything – if we could get legal work status, temporary protective status, for example, people coming from, let's say, Venezuela. Treat them as we treat the people from Afghanistan and Ukraine and Cuba and Haiti. They have an expedited work process opportunity.

If these individuals could work – my God, I can't tell you how many people have said to me, “I need them in my North Country, Lake Placid Hotel, a restaurant over in Syracuse, a nursing home on Long Island.” There are so many jobs that they could have been absorbed into our economy so easily. 5,000 farm jobs open today.

We have to get the crops picked so they can send the great produce down here to New York City restaurants. So, we need to get that from the White House more than anything.

Errol Louis, NY 1: Well, let me ask you beyond that, you know, because let's say that happens, there's a state side of it that I know you're aware of as an Upstater from Western New York, that a lot of my viewers aren't necessarily aware of, which is that over the last few decades, there has really been a remarkable process whereby refugees, migrants who've come here have been resettled in Utica and in Buffalo and in Syracuse. And I heard it even referred to as the refugee renaissance in Buffalo where decades of population decline were reversed, and people become tax paying Americans and things work out remarkably well. As far as I could tell, that's got to be the end game here, right?

Governor Hochul: That is the end game. That is the end game. Buffalo's population would've declined, it went up over 8,000, which is a big deal for a city that size. I have walked the streets; I've gone to the refugee centers. I know what they did in Buffalo, but here's the difference: they all had legal work status. In fact, they're required to work for five years in order to receive permanent legal status. That's the difference. So, they're taking jobs immediately. Jobs that employers are saying, “We're so grateful you're here.” People from Burma, Thailand and Somalia that is now part of the fabric of a place like Buffalo. We’re doing the same in Utica, Albany's doing the same. So, we need to get legal work status and it changes everything.

Errol Louis, NY 1: Right, right, right. Yeah. I guess they do things a little differently Upstate. In the City, you know, you don't need a piece of paper to find a job and people are working already from what we can tell, but I think you're right. That is the right way to do it.

Before I let you go, the original plan for the Penn Station area is being changed in part because the developer says, I can't rent out a bunch of office towers in this current environment, there's been a glut of office space. So, in the course of these ongoing discussions, though, we've heard some talk about so-called through running. In other words, not making Penn Station the last stop for New Jersey Transit and for Long Island Rail Road and for Metro-North, but making it a place where the trains stop and then keep going so that you can actually, in a one seat ride, go conceivably from Westchester or Connecticut all the way through to New Jersey. Is that something that's on the table for you?

Governor Hochul: I'll tell you what's on the table right now because there's short term immediate desires and plans, and there's a little bit longer term. What we have to do is give New Yorkers and our visitors a world-class experience when they come through Penn Station. I've described it as a hell hole. I'm sorry to have to say that about one of our assets owned by Amtrak, but we need to make it beautiful. Look at Moynihan Station named after my former boss, Senator Moynihan. This is what New Yorkers deserve and we can do it.

So, what I had to do when we realized the developer was not going forward with his plan – that's fine. I understand that we have a glut of office space, it's not a good idea. I want to see housing around there, but I'm not waiting for the neighborhood to be developed under the previous plan because that'll take until the Gateway Tunnel is done. I don't know if I'll live that long. Errol, that's a long way into the future.

So, we work on the station now. That's what I announced. I had a press conference with all of our elected leaders saying, we're going to separate the two now. We're having a break. The past is the past. We're going forward focusing on making that station something we're all so proud of.

Errol Louis, NY 1: Okay, we'll continue to watch that as well. Thanks so much for coming by. It sounds like a lot of interesting stuff happening. What you did with yourself on vacation is more than what most of us have done. Thanks a whole lot. Let's take a break now.

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