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.
James A. Farley Post Office
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.
The Federal government has dabbled in several architectural styles over the years when designing New York City post offices. From outdated baroque in the late 1800’s to New Deal-era Art Moderne, all of these historic buildings seem to share two characteristics: grandiose and massive. We’ve rounded up here some of the greatest architectural stunners, which also showcase the evolution of historic post office architecture in the city (and almost make waiting an hour in line to mail one letter bearable).
- Plans to convert the James A. Farley Post Office on Eighth Avenue into an elegant annex for Penn Station are finally moving ahead. [NYT]
- The Sunshine Hotel, one of the last operational Bowery flophouses, is downsizing one-third to make way for commercial lofts. [Bowery Boogie]
- Why Manhattan and Brooklyn apartment sellers have been cutting prices this month. [DNA Info]
- Elliman’s Michael Graves makes a record-breaking sale with his own Williamsburg apartment. The condo at The Residences at The Williamsburg at 135 North 11th Street sold for $1.75M or $1,906 per square foot. [Brownstoner]
The James A. Farley Post Office (left); A reduced two-bedroomat 2255 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (right)