Honestly, they should just put this proposal to bed. More time, money and resources have been devoted to this still birth than almost any other project I can recall.
New Jersey Transit Will Consider Occupying New Station in Midtown
By MICHAEL LUO
September 24, 2004
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey awarded $10 million to New Jersey Transit yesterday to study how it might extend its current platforms in Pennsylvania Station into a new station in the James A. Farley post office building. The work could pave the way for the transit agency to become the new station's main tenant, instead of Amtrak.
Plans to build a grand railroad hub in the landmark Farley post office building, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and 31st and 33rd Streets in Manhattan, have been in the making for more than a decade, only to be delayed time and time again.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who died last year, was the project's main advocate, calling for the city to redeem itself after the original Pennsylvania Station, a neo-Classical masterpiece designed by McKim, Mead & White, was torn down in the 1960's. The new station in the post office, to be named for Senator Moynihan, would free up space in the crowded Penn Station, just across Eighth Avenue.
Recently, Amtrak, long the station's intended tenant, declared it would not pay any rent if it moved into the space from its current home in the existing Penn Station, which it owns, because of continuing financial problems. That left officials with the Empire State Development Corporation, which oversees the project through its subsidiary, the Moynihan Station Redevelopment Corporation, casting about for alternatives.
"We have said that this project will not be stopped," said Charles A. Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation and vice chairman of the Port Authority's board. "Or we would lose more than $300 million in federal aid."
Mr. Gargano said yesterday that he was not bothered by Amtrak's change of heart, calling the national railroad "a minor player" in Penn Station and pointing out that it provides only about 28,000 of the 500,000 people who use Penn Station daily.
New Jersey Transit, which shares use of Penn Station with Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road, represents a logical fallback because its ridership has been exploding and its concourses have become increasingly crowded. The Long Island Rail Road operates more than half the trains that use Penn Station; New Jersey Transit accounts for about a third; and Amtrak, 16 percent.
To help it move more people into Manhattan, New Jersey Transit has been working on plans to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River that would allow it to double the number of trains into Penn Station. But that project is years away from completion. In the short term, the transit agency's planners have been searching for solutions to their crowding problems.
The Port Authority's money will pay for preliminary design and engineering work on building a new central pedestrian corridor that would give New Jersey Transit riders another option for getting up from the tracks and out of the current station. The money will also pay for preliminary work on building a new western corridor that would connect passengers to the new Moynihan Station, as well as extending the platforms on New Jersey Transit's current tracks into the Farley Building.
"We're trying to get more trains and people into the existing Penn Station," said Richard T. Roberts, the transit agency's chief planner. The platform extension would allow dispatchers to send longer trains, carrying more people, into the station. But Mr. Roberts said New Jersey Transit officials also want to make sure customers have connections to Moynihan Station.
Lynn Bowersox, assistant executive director of New Jersey Transit, said no decisions had been made yet on whether the agency would move completely into the new station, split its ticketing and waiting areas between the old and new stations, or not move at all. For many of its riders who work on the East Side, the agency's current location closer to Seventh Avenue is more convenient.
"Nothing's off the table," Ms. Bowersox said.
Mr. Gargano said yesterday that it was also possible that the Long Island Rail Road could become a tenant in the new station as well, although officials there had previously said they were not interested in moving into Moynihan Station.
Mr. Gargano said he spoke last week with Peter S. Kalikow, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, about the possibility and was told that the authority would look into it.
Yesterday, Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the authority, said, "We are exploring our options at the Farley Building," and added, "Nothing has been ruled in or out."
The project, however, has the potential of competing for federal money and attention with some of the transportation authority's main building priorities: creating a link for the Long Island Rail Road into Grand Central Terminal and constructing the Second Avenue subway.
Despite the questions about who will occupy the station, Mr. Gargano said that a request for proposals on commercial use of the space from developers will be sent out in October and that an award should be made by January.
Honestly, they should just put this proposal to bed. More time, money and resources have been devoted to this still birth than almost any other project I can recall.
State's Project for a Grand New Penn Station Is Moving Again
By CHARLES V. BAGLI
October 28, 2004
The $910 million plan to transform the city's former central post office building into a grand new Pennsylvania Station is once again lurching forward.
State officials said yesterday that they had lined up two anchor tenants and most of the financing and were close to picking a developer.
The state has narrowed the list of potential developers to four from six and is now asking for specific proposals for converting the blocklong James A. Farley Building on Eighth Avenue into a gleaming Moynihan Station, named after the senator who was its champion. The state expects to choose a developer in March and to start construction next summer.
Both New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road have told state officials that they want to have tracks and space at the station, replacing Amtrak as the anchor tenant. Earlier this year, Amtrak left the project because of money problems, choosing to remain in the existing Penn Station across Eighth Avenue.
Although the state is still looking for up to $40 million to pay for an emergency ventilation system for the tunnels below the Farley building, officials said they were optimistic that the Moynihan Station's time had come.
"We're going forward with this project, no question about it," said Charles A. Gargano, chairman of the Moynihan Station Development Corporation. "It's basically fully funded for construction."
The Farley building, which stretches from Eighth Avenue west to Ninth Avenue, also seems to be playing a role in the city's plans to redevelop the far West Side of Manhattan and build a highly contested football stadium for the Jets.
Initial plans from two of the four developers - Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust - showed a new sports arena, most likely a new Madison Square Garden, rising from within the walls of the western portion of the Farley building, near Ninth Avenue, a block west of where the Garden is now.
"It's no secret that there aren't a lot of sites for something like the Garden," said Steven Roth, chairman of Vornado Realty Trust.
The proposal is intriguing because Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has spent months castigating James and Chuck Dolan, who control the Garden and its parent company, Cablevision, for spending millions of dollars on television ads opposing the stadium, which the Dolans view as competition. Last June, the Dolans revealed that they would spend $300 million renovating the Garden, without public subsidies. The Jets need a total of $600 million from the city and the state.
The Dolans say they have no interest in the proposal by Related and Vornado, but stadium opponents suggest that the Bloomberg administration may be pushing the idea in the hope that the Dolans will drop their opposition to the stadium in return for help in building a new arena. Or, opponents say, the city may be trying to embarrass the Dolans.
"It's hard to imagine that this is coincidental," said Councilwoman Christine Quinn, whose district includes the West Side. "There's not a lot that happens by accident on the West Side today. This must be directed at the Garden, and it looks like an effort to tamp down some of the opposition."
The mayor's office played down its role in encouraging a possible new site for the Garden.
"The mayor has been a leading supporter of the transformation of the Farley Post Office into Moynihan Station," said Edward Skyler, Mr. Bloomberg's press secretary, "but we haven't discussed these ideas with Cablevision, and we don't have much say on which plan will ultimately be chosen."
The plan seems intended to entice Cablevision by allowing it to build a new arena essentially free.
Related and Vornado may form a joint venture to buy the land beneath the existing Garden, enabling the owners to build a new arena in the Farley building, according to state officials and real estate executives. The developers, in turn, would eventually rebuild Penn Station, raze the old Garden and build a mixed-use large complex of apartments, office space, a hotel and retail stores.
Cablevision made it clear yesterday, however, that it planned to proceed with its work on the current Garden.
"We are committed to renovating the Garden," Barry Watkins, a spokesman, said, and that makes the construction plan highly unlikely.
"Cablevision has all the marbles," Mr. Roth said.
The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan originally conceived of the Farley project as a way for the city to replace the notorious inconvenience of the current station and redeem itself for having demolished the original Pennsylvania Station in 1964.
In 1999, David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed a glass-enclosed central hall for the Farley, to complement the building's grand staircase and row of Corinthian columns. Much of the financing has been in place since 2001.
There have been several setbacks. At one point, the Postal Service reconsidered its decision to move out of most of the Farley. The state subsequently reached an agreement with the Postal Service to buy the building for $230 million.
Earlier this year, Amtrak, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, announced that it was pulling out of the project. The state then began talking to New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road about filling the gap.
Amtrak has said it will cooperate with the project and allow access to the tracks and platforms below the Farley. Mr. Gargano said the state would ask the state's Congressional delegation to help secure funds for an emergency ventilation system.
The two other interested developers are Tishman Speyer with Jones Lang LaSalle, and Boston Properties.
Great, Amtrak won't take space because it is near bankruptcy, but the MTA, which is sinking faster than the Titanic, is on board. I wish this project would just die a permanent death already. East side LIRR access to Grand Central and LIRR access to a new Lower Manhattan hub would free up tracks at Penn for NJ Transit & Amtrak. This station was a bad idea, is a bad idea, and, in my opinion, is - in its latest wheezing stage - a crap design.
Does it seem crazy that they are going to suggest taking a proposed train station and make it a basketball court? Politics.
I like the design and am glad its moving forward. Amtrak should be taking part in it, and hopefully they will be able to change their minds in the future - thus making Penn station at MSG unused.
New Penn Station Project Gains New Steam
NOVEMBER 16TH, 2004
It looks like plans to convert the Farley Post Office building into a new Penn Station may get off the ground after all. As NY1 transit reporter Bobby Cuza tells us, the project is going forward despite a number of recent setbacks.
For years officials have talked of expanding and extending Penn Station across the street to the historic Farley Post Office. But recently, the $1 billion project has been dealt a series of blows.
First, Amtrak backed out of the project. Citing financial difficulties, the railroad said it was staying put in the existing Penn Station. Then Congress withdrew $40 million in federal funding. Still, it hasn't been enough to derail the project, which state development officials say is still on track.
"We owe it to the people of New York. They need more space at Penn Station," said Charles Gargano of the Empire State Development Corporation. "It's a very congested station. It was designed to handle 250,000 passengers a day. It handles more than 550,000."
Based on a design by architect David Childs, Gargano says construction on the project will be underway early next summer. With Amtrak out of the picture, officials are now looking to New Jersey Transit and Long Island Rail Road to be the primary tenants. Both are interested.
They're confident Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton have won support in Washington to have that lost $40 million reinstated. Altogether, Gargano says, 90 percent of the project's funding is in place. As soon as February, the state will pick from among four developers, some of whose initial proposals include a new sports arena on the site.
"We've heard things about a possible arena for Madison Square Garden on the west end of this site. We've heard something about big box stores," said Gargano. "We don't know. We will evaluate that."
The new hub will be called Moynihan Station, after the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who championed the project.
Moynihan thought of the project as a way to bring back the grandeur of the original Penn Station, which was demolished back in the 1960s. Now, the late senator's daughter is keeping up the fight. She formed a citizens group to advocate for the project.
"Once construction begins, it'll take at least five years to complete," said Maura Moynihan. "Until I hear the sound of jackhammers coming out of the Farley Building, I will not sleep a peaceful night."
According to the state, those jackhammers are coming soon.
– Bobby Cuza
I've got my fingers crossed.
A MIGHTIER PENN
By CLEMENTE LISI
November 22, 2004 -- Welcome to the new Penn Station.
The transformation of the Farley Post Office into a modern transit hub is back on track with construction expected to start next summer in an effort to extend and enlarge Penn Station by 2009, officials said.
The rail complex will be renamed the Moynihan Station in honor of late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and will primarily house Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit trains.
The project got a shot in the arm last week when the Port Authority approved $10 million in funds for the state to use toward the construction of an extension between platforms located at Penn Station's West End concourse to the new hub.
The $900 million project was launched in 1999, but several financial and logistical problems stalled the plan, including Amtrak's backing out of helping pay for the station, the 9/11 attacks and the anthrax postal crisis.
Most of the funding earmarked for the construction of the new complex has been in place since 2001.
Moynihan Station, which would relieve crowding and make it easier for commuters to board trains, will feature a mix of modern architecture and classic beaux-arts design.
Plans show the new station will feature a sky-lit concourse area, spacious ticket hall, underground connection to the current station and an estimated 800,000 square feet of potential retail space.
The face-lift would mean redesigning the building — which stretches from 31st and 33rd streets along Eighth and Ninth avenues — to look more like the original Penn Station that was torn down in 1966.
Over 500,000 daily riders currently stream through Penn Station and are forced to make their way through crowded and dimly lit tunnels underneath Madison Square Garden to get to trains.
The Empire State Development Corp., the state agency spearheading the project, said developers Boston Properties, Jones Lang LaSalle together with Tishman Speyer, The Related Companies, and Vornado Realty Trust have bid on the project.
"Each firm has put forth initial ideas for development of the space and the project, and now we will give them an opportunity to develop their proposals more fully," said ESDC Chairman Charles Gargano.
The ESDC said a developer will be chosen in January, and construction expected to start next summer.
"By making key investments in our rail infrastructure now, we will be ready for the future," Gargano said.
By STEVE CUOZZO
January 18, 2005
Stephen M. Ross and Steve Roth look increasingly like the Odd Couple at the new Penn Station.
Four developers responded to the Empire State Development Corp's RFP on the oft-delayed project last fall. Among them were Ross's Related Cos. and Roth's Vornado Realty Trust. It was reported they might form a joint venture to buy the land under Madison Square Garden, facilitating a move by the Garden into the new station complex.
Now, we're told, they may join forces to develop the new Penn Station itself. Asked if privately held Related was teaming up with publicly traded Vornado, Ross said, "yes."
A Ross-Roth partnership would be fun to watch; they are friendly rivals with similar-sounding names who developed corners of 59th Street — Related's Time Warner Center and Vornado's Bloomberg L.P. tower.
"People always think we're the same person, and now they'll be even more confused," Ross laughed. Boston Properties and Tishman Speyer are also vying for the Penn Station project.
Copyright 2005 NYP Holdings, Inc.
The Partnership is going to be amazing! Both are good for amazing buildings. Cant wait to see the whole new Penn Station and the underneath station of the Garden for a make over!!! Because right now is a boring station. I am so glad!!!
Leave it to the Post and Cuozzo to have some insider gossip. Its good to hear something about this project!
Steve really is a good one
Plans For Moynihan Station Back On Track
JANUARY 14TH, 2005
Despite a series of setbacks, plans are back on track to turn the Farley Post Office building into a train station.
Developers did a walk-through of the building that's across the street from Penn Station Thursday. It's set to become a hub for New Jersey Transit and possibly the Long Island Rail Road.
The facility will be called Moynihan Station after its longtime champion, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Officials from the Empire State Development Corporation say the facility will give the outdated Penn Station system some major relief.
"It's going to be much more pleasant for the riders," said Charles Gargano Empire State Development Corporation chair. "It's won't be as crowded as it is today. It's going to be an important transportation improvement."
Construction is set to start next summer.
Is SOM's design for Moynihan station still the one that's planned?