The first phase of Governor Cuomo’s plan to revamp Penn Station wrapped up last month with two new entrances opening on the corners of West 31st and West 33rd Streets and Eighth Avenue. Plus, the West End Concourse was expanded and now boasts a new color scheme, LED screens and murals. Adding to the project’s progress, the state was approved for a federal loan on Tuesday for up to $550 million for the second phase of the plan, which will convert the Farley Post Office across the street into Moynihan Train Hall, expanding Penn Station floor space by 50 percent, as reported by Politico NY.
James A. Farley Post Office
Just a day after Penn Station‘s long-awaited West End Concourse revealed itself to the public, for the first time allowing Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, and NJ Transit passengers to enter and board trains through the historic James A. Farley Post Office across 8th Avenue, Governor Cuomo has announced that Empire State Development signed the final financial agreement with Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska AB for the $1.6 billion Penn-Farley Complex. After decades of delays, construction will now begin to transform the historic post office into the Moynihan Train Hall, a new 255,000-square-foot train hall housing both Amtrak and LIRR ticketing and waiting areas, as well as 70,000 square feet of new commercial, retail, and dining space. But a development announcement from the Governor is never complete without a fresh set of renderings, and Cuomo did not disappoint this time.
As of today, Penn Station‘s long-awaited West End Concourse–the first tangible step towards Governor Cuomo’s ambitious plan to transform the James A. Farley Post Office into the new Moynihan Train Hall–is open for business, for the first time allowing Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, and NJ Transit passengers to enter and board trains through the historic building across 8th Avenue. In addition to landscaped entryways, the sparkling new concourse is chock full of LED screens, artwork, and, in true Cuomo fashion, bright, open, and high-tech spaces.
This spring, the 650,000 commuters who travel through Penn Station daily may finally start to witness Governor Cuomo’s $1.6 billion plan to revamp what he called the “overcrowded, decrepit and claustrophobic” station into a more spacious and high-tech transit hub. As the Daily News reports, the first phase of the overall Moynihan Station Development Project will begin soon, extending Penn Station’s West End Concourse to reduce congestion. The second phase will transform the James A. Farley Post Office into the new Moynihan Train Hall, which will hold more than 112,000 square feet of retail and 588,000 square feet of office space, in addition to new ticketing and waiting areas for Amtrak and Long Island Railroad passengers.
When Governor Cuomo revealed his plans for a new Penn Station-Moynihan Train Hall complex early last week, things seemed to be moving full steam towards a 2020 completion date thanks to flashy renderings and the selection of a high-profile developer-builder team. But architect Vishaan Chakrabarti was not convinced, and he and his firm the Practice for Architecture and Urbanism decided to create their own vision, one that repurposes Madison Square Garden, a facet of the plan he feels Cuomo failed to address.
Vishaan Chakrabarti reveals idea to repurpose Madison Square Garden as part of the Penn Station overhaul, Fri, September 30, 2016
Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo revealed plans to transform a revamped Penn Station-Moynihan Train Hall complex into a “world-class 21st century transportation hub.” Despite the flashy new renderings and promise of a 2020 completion date, not everyone is sold on the plan, including Vishaan Chakrabarti, former principal of SHoP Architects and founder of the Practice for Architecture and Urbanism. As outlined in the Times, he feels that Cuomo’s scheme has one glaring omission–Madison Square Garden. Instead of demolishing the arena, as earlier plans had called for, Chakrabarti proposes repurposing it and “using its stripped skeleton to make a glass pavilion, which becomes a neighborhood gathering spot, not just a station.” The venue would then move to the west end of the Farley Building.
In a presentation (pdf) Tuesday at the Association for a Better New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that plans for transforming a revamped Penn Station-Moynihan Train Hall complex into a “world-class 21st century transportation hub” were back on track and ready to roll, complete with a slew of new renderings and the selection of a developer-builder team including the Related Companies, Vornado, and Skanska AB, to redevelop the Farley Building.
6sqft asked readers yesterday if Governor Cuomo would finally be able to get the Penn Station overhaul off the ground, after various news outlets reported that he would be announcing a plan to do just this. The majority of you said it wasn’t going to happen, but it looks like the long-envisioned project has just gotten one step closer to reality.
During a press conference yesterday at Madison Square Garden, the Governor revealed that he’ll be heading up a major revamp of Penn Station, which he called “un-New York,” according to Gothamist. The more than $3 billion redevelopment has been dubbed the Empire Station Complex, and a request for proposals will go out this week, due back in 90 days (not good news for the decade-old deal with developers Related Cos. and Vornado Realty). As expected, it includes the long-stalled Moynihan Station project that will convert the adjacent Farley Post Office into a large waiting area, similar in size to the main room at Grand Central. This will increase the size of the nation’s busiest transit hub by 50 percent and will connect to the current station by a network of underground tunnels. Though several options are on the table for a redesign, the renderings released by the Governor’s office show a glassy and light structure that’s quite unlike the current space that Cuomo described as “dark, constrained, ugly, a lost opportunity, a bleak warren of corridors… a miserable experience and a terrible first impression.”
After chatter last month that the state may reboot the plan to expand Penn Station into the adjacent Farley Post Office, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Governor Cuomo will announce this week a full overhaul for the nation’s busiest transit hub. It’s expected that his plan will indeed include the projected $900 million post office redevelopment known as Moynihan Station, which will relocate Amtrak’s waiting area, thereby freeing up room to improve current LIRR and NJ Transit concourses. Another component may be to relocate Madison Square Garden from atop the station so that more light and air can filter down to the subterranean space.
But questions still remain. Who will pay for such a massive undertaking? How will this affect the decade-old deal with developers Related Cos. and Vornado Realty? Let us know what you think!
Images: Farley Post Office (L); Current Penn Station entrance (R)
In 2005, the state selected the Related Cos. and Vornado Realty to oversee a $900 million redevelopment of the Penn Station-adjacent James A. Farley Post Office. The project, which came to be known as Moynihan Station, would have turned the full-block structure into an annex for Penn Station. The developers twice tried and failed to move Madison Square Garden into the space; they were also unsuccessful attracting a community college or CBS to the location. And after a promise to close this year on the deal was left empty, Governor Cuomo seems to have had enough.
The New York Times reports that he and state officials met with Related and Vornado last week to voice frustrations about the long-stalled project and express the possibility that they’ll be replaced.