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Highlights for 2010: Year in Review

As 2010 comes to a close, we take a look at some notable planning, preservation and livability developments of the past year that will shape the future of our city. Enjoy! In late February, the transformation of the James A. Farley Post Office to Moynihan Station took a massive step forward when US Senator Charles Schumer announced the awarding of $83 million in federal government stimulus funds for the first phase of the project. The grant completed funding for initial developments, providing $270 million to expand the passageway below 33rd Street between Penn Station and Farley’s west end concourse, increase capacity and access to subways and the new New Jersey Transit station, and create two additional entrances into the Farley building on Eighth Avenue. Additionally, six new ventilation fan rooms will improve safety underground. Phase One is expected to conclude in 2015. There was positive news for a Coney Island institution in March, when the Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing on the Shore Theatre, built in 1925 at the corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues. Although vacant for decades and in danger of falling victim to the rezoning process at Coney, MAS recommended the preservation of the Shore and other historic structures that, like the Cyclone and WonderWheel, remain cultural cornerstones of the community. On December 14, the Landmarks Preservation Commission moved forward with giving the Shore Theatre landmark status. MAS President Vin Cipolla noted the building’s potential “to be a great performance space in Coney Island and to enhance the area’s revitalization.” The Penn District was in the news throughout 2010, and much of the discussion – at times heated – centered on 15 Penn Plaza, the proposed skyscraper included in a 10-year, $646 million area redevelopment plan. In August, Curbed reported that the City Planning Commission approved developer Vornado Realty Trust’s plans to replace the Hotel Pennsylvania, which celebrated its 100th birthday this year, with a new 67-story tower. MAS, while not opposed to the plan, made clear the necessity of a comprehensive, sustainable transportation strategy in encouraging development on the west side. With increased congestion in an already crowded neighborhood, working above and belowground transit improvements into a long-term planning framework is a logical step. One transportation plan involving the west side met its definitive end this October, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie abandoned the proposed ARC Project, citing financial concerns. As The Transport Politic reports, ARC would have expanded rail capacity substantially between Manhattan’s western shore and New Jersey, almost doubling the number of tracks under the Hudson at a cost of $8.7 billion. Much of New York City’s more than 500 miles of shoreline is set to change as the Department of City Planning begins work on Vision 2020, a comprehensive plan that will provide long range guidance for the city’s waterfront. Renovations to locations like Manhattan’s east side waterfront, including the area around the former Con Ed pier, near the United Nations, would have immediate benefits to the surrounding community, and would reestablish public access to the water. In November, NYU decided to abandon plans to build a 38-story tower on its landmarked Silver Towers complex, designed by I.M. Pei. According to the New York Times, plans for what would have been the tallest tower in Greenwich Village were scrapped when the architect voiced his opposition, naming a different site at LaGuardia Place and Bleeker Street as preferable. According to the Times, residents and preservationists alike were resistant to the idea of a fourth tower on the complex, part of NYU’s 2031 expansion plans.
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