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October 2007
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Archive for October, 2007

DUMBO, Eberhard Faber Among Industrial Sites on LPC Agenda This Week

dumbo brooklyn street view bridgeBrooklyn’s Industrial Waterfront is the focus of a major designation day at the Landmarks Preservation Commission next week. On Tuesday, October 30, the Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed DUMBO Historic District and vote on the designation of the Eberhard Pencil Factory Historic District. Both sites were highlighted in the MAS’s successful nomination of the Brooklyn industrial waterfront heritage to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Places for 2007. The Commission’s action on DUMBO and Eberhard Faber follows the designation of the Domino Sugar Factory in September. DUMBO is significant for its association with the rise of the city of Brooklyn as a major American industrial center and is unique to New York City for its nineteenth and early twentieth century industrial buildings, Belgian block streets, and its location on the East River by the imposing anchorage of the Manhattan Bridge. Continue Reading>>

The Brendan Gill Prize 2007

Monday, December 3, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., at the National Museum of the American Indian, One Bowling Green, New York MAP The Board of Directors of the Municipal Art Society will award the 2007 Brendan Gill Prize to actor, playwright and poet Sarah Jones for “Bridge & Tunnel” her off-Broadway 2004 – Broadway 2006 one-woman show, vividly portaying the diverse and wonderful characters who populate and enrich our city. This event is by invitation only. To learn more about the Brendan Gill Prize and previous winners, click here.

Press Coverage of Release of Penn Station Draft Scope Document

October 24: From the New York Times: Release of Penn Station Plans, Charles Bagli From the New York Sun:Preliminary Penn Station Plans Released; a Test for Spitzer, Eliot Brown From the Daily News:New Plan for Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, Jonathan Lemire From Gothamist: Latest Details on Moynihan/Penn Station Project and Map of the Day: Moynihan Station Redevelopment Plan, Dave Hogarty From amNY: Agency Unveils Redrawn Plan for the Garden Station, David Freedlander From the New York Post: Penn On Track, Tom Topousis From NY1: Public Review Process of Moynihan Station Begins From Curbed: Moynihan Station Draft Scope is Fun for the Whole Family! October 23: From Crain’s New York Business: Officials Unveil Penn Station Plans, Anne Michaud From Commercial Property News: Moynihan Station Competing Plans Released by Empire State Development Corp., Tom Dworetzky From Reuters: NY Unveils Competing Moynihan Station Plans, Joan Gralla From the New York Observer: State Unveils Moynihan Station Plans, Tom Acitelli

What’s in the Draft Scope of Moynihan Station?

Yesterday, the ESDC released their draft scope document for Moynihan Station. A scope document is a technical document that identifies the issues to be addressed in a draft Environmental Impact Statement. It is generally released with conceptual plans or images of the proposal, which, unfortunately for the public, is not the case for Moynihan Station (click here to read MAS’ reaction to the release of the scope). The 93-page picture-less document outlines the basic details about the extent of the project. Read below for some of the key points.

In the Historic Farley Post Office Building

  • The creation of Moynihan Station West: inside the Farley Post Office Building there will be a new train hall, transit-related retail, and vertical circulation points (to the platforms below the building), but not the intermodal hall that was once planned.
  • A New Madison Square Garden – Madison Square Garden will be moved from it’s current location (above Penn Station) to the rear of the Farley building (the Western Annex).
  • Moving all Post Office functions out of Farley – The scope will study moving all of the post office functions out of the building. MAS believes the beautiful lobby of New York’s premier post office should continue to be used as a post office.
Moynihan Scope Map

At the Existing Penn Station / Madison Square Garden Block

  • Moynihan Station East – Demolition of Madison Square Garden and construction of a new train station above Penn Station’s existing rails and platforms.
  • Construction of 7.5 million square feet of new commercial or mixed-use development – While some of the development rights (anywhere from 125,000-1 million square feet) would be used across the street from the station at Penn West and Penn East, 4.5 million square feet of development rights would be transferred throughout the area. A Moynihan Station Subdistrict would be created, which would allow up to approximately 4.3 million zoning square feet of mixed-use development to be built on multiple receiving sites in a zoning Subdistrict (click on map to see detail).
  • The Penn East and West Sites. These two sites are located on the east and west ends of the One Penn Plaza block. One Penn Plaza would remain and two new structures are proposed for the block. As currently proposed, a commercial building of up to approximately 2 million square-feet would be developed on the eastern end of the block (fronting Seventh Avenue), and a 1 million square foot building on the West.

In the Neighborhood Proposed Zoning changes:

Moynihan Station Special Zoning District
  • Create a new zoning subdistrict, The Moynihan Station Subdistrict (see above).
  • Rezone certain manufacturing and commercial districts in the vicinity of Penn Station According to the scope document, the rezoning “may result in additional development in the area including new development on underutilized properties.”
The Penn Station Service Building. Amtrak and possibly New Jersey Transit (NJT) would have their back-of-house operations in the building located at 236-248 West 31st Street. An appropriately functional connection between the Service Building and Moynihan Station East will be analyzed. Expansion of the USPS Morgan Annex. The Morgan Annex would be enlarged to accommodate most of the postal operations relocated from the Farley Complex.

MAS Issues Press Release Following Moynihan Station Scope Document Release

MAS CALLS FOR GREATER PUBLIC VOICE IN MOYNIHAN STATION DEVELOPMENT $1 Billion-Plus Public Investment Requires Public Oversight, Participation New York, NY, October 23, 2007 — The Municipal Art Society today called for greater public oversight and a transparent public review process for the development of the new Moynihan Station following the release of a “scoping document” on the project by the Empire State Development Corp. The MAS strongly supports the concept of the project, including the relocation of Madison Square Garden into the rear of the Farley building. However, the MAS also released guiding principles for the development to ensure the protection of the character of the historic Farley Post Office while ensuring that the new station is an efficient transportation portal, and a great new work of contemporary civic architecture. Continue Reading>>

MAS CLE Program: Mom and Pop Among the Chains: Law, Policy and Urban Retail Diversity

Tuesday, November 13, 8:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m., at the Municipal Art Society, 457 Madison Ave. MAP “Intricate minglings of different uses in cities are not a form of chaos.” – Jane Jacobs, Death and Life of Great American Cities This CLE course will address legal issues relating to maintaining urban retail diversity in New York City, including those issues relating to the concentration of uses in major business and residential districts; the resulting loss of small non-chain stores; the economic and legal factors that promote the current conditions; case-studies and zoning initiatives taken by New York and other municipalities to promote retail diversification; and the economic case for small scale diversification. Continue Reading>>

When the Big Get Bigger: New York’s Universities and Their Neighborhoods – TONIGHT

Tuesday, November 6, 6:30 p.m., at the Benjamin and Irma G. Weiss Research Building, Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue Forty years ago, Jane Jacobs opposed the construction of New York University’s monolithic Bobst Library on Washington Square South. The world has changed since then, but institutional expansion remains a major force in cities. Plans by Columbia University, New York University, Cooper Union and the United Nations have all met with considerable controversy. Continue Reading>>

Can One Woman (Still) Make a Difference? Jane Jacobs and New York – SOLD OUT

Wednesday, October 31, 7:00 p.m., at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, 131 E. 10th St. This panel will explore the social and historical context in which Jane Jacobs emerged and the ways she has influenced modern urban design and planning. What factors contributed to the paradigm shift she abetted? Are her principles still applicable and effective? To what extent has the world changed to match her vision, and to what extent are today’s challenges of a different caliber? Continue Reading>>

Highbridge Park, A Place That Matters

Highbridge Park, in Washington Heights, Manhattan and a bit of the Bronx. Highbridge Park covers about 119 of the more than 500 acres of city parkland north of 155th St. in Manhattan. It’s also the site of several much-loved and officially designated landmarks: the High Bridge itself (1848, the city’s oldest standing bridge), the Water Tower (1872), and the High Bridge Pool and Play Center (1936, one of the 11 giant pools that Robert Moses built). Pedestrians used to cross the High Bridge from the Bronx into Manhattan, but more importantly, so did our water–as part of the Croton Aqueduct system. In 2009 or so, the bridge once again will be open to walkers, and the park, too, has been receiving needed badly-needed repairs. See our new profile on the PlaceExplorer, contributed by Breanne Scanlon.

The NYC Newsrack Committee Meets to Reveal Winner of OUTRAGE Photo Competition

The NYC Newsrack Committee is a coalition of civic organizations and BIDs concerned about the lack of enforcement of the newsrack regulations. Since the current law regulating newsracks on our public sidewalks is not being enforced, the Committee is calling for the City Council to hold an oversight hearing so that it can be determined how this law can be strengthened. Please join us for the NYC Newsrack Committee’s first open meeting: November 13th at 12:00 p.m. Martin E. Segal Theatre at the CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue. Everyone is invited to come. The winner of the Municipal Art Society’s “Nasty Newsrack Competition” will be announced at this time. The NYC Newsrack Committee consists of: 34th Street Partnership Alliance for Downtown NY Brooklyn Heights Association Carnegie Hill Neighbors CIVITAS Columbus Ave. BID East 86th Street Merchants & Residents Association Fashion Center BID Grand Central Partnership LANDMARK WEST! Municipal Art Society Murray Hill Neighborhood Association New Yorkers for Parks Times Square Alliance Transportation alternatives Union Square Partnership

A Call for Public Debate on Moynihan Station

Bloomberg’s architecture critic, James S. Russell, wrote an insightful article about the new Moynihan Station [Penn Station Project Needs Real Debate to Produce Great Design] today. He wrote, “now the stars seemed to have aligned to fully realize Moynihan’s dream,” while cautioning that amidst this large development project there needs to be assurance that the public will have a voice in building a great new station. Russell decries the “secret negotiations,” between the developer and the state and says “That approach needs to be rethought right now. The project’s scope should be the beginning of a genuine public dialogue, not a one-way hearing process.” His concerns parallel the public’s, according to poll results released by the Municipal Art Society on August 7, 2007. According to our poll results, there was strong support for public oversight of the Penn Station project as well as a desire to see the plans for the project before they are accepted by the city and state.
  • 87% say public oversight of the Penn Station renovation project is absolutely necessary given that $1 billion of taxpayers’ money is at stake
  • 92% think that the public should have the chance to see the plans for renovating Penn Station before the Governor and Mayor endorse them
Finally, Russell asks, “What should the public demand from this deal?” He answers “it should get a gorgeous landmark gateway.” We couldn’t agree more. Care must be taken that the landmark Farley Building, and its beautiful historic post office lobby, are preserved. And unlike the current Penn Station, Moynihan needs to be a highly functioning station, large enough and smartly designed to accommodate, on a daily basis, more than half a million people in a hurry. The station should allow for airport access and connections to subways and maybe a new light rail with connections to the burgeoning Far West Side. And once built, the station must remain in public hands. The care and management (including the careful choice of retail) should be at the level of the city’s beloved Grand Central Terminal.

What’s Happening on the Far West Side?

Charles Bagli’s New York Times article from October 6, 2007, about development on the Far West Side, [Midtown Bank Is Said to Plan a Move to a Skyscraper Over the West Side Railyards], has a lot of information about the current state of development affairs on the Far West Side. Of special interest: Who’s putting up bids for the air rights over the Hudson yards? According to Bagli, the Durst Organization, Tishman Speyer, Related Companies, Brookfield Properties and Extell Development Company will make offers. How much will the MTA get for the development rights? Far less than what the $1 billion they hoped, Bagli writes, because of the complexities of building the platforms. What’s happening to Javits? “Stalled and losing momentum,” according to Bagli. Perhaps this is a great opportunity to rethink the entire development (Click here to read MAS’ position on Javits). Related Links on Far West Side Development: Deadline Looms in Hudson Yards Bid,(Crain’s, October 08. 2007): Sherwood Equities has apparently announced plans adjacent to the yards,(Commercial Property News, Oct 9, 2007):