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Is Moynihan Station Sputtering?

Charles Bagli of the New York Times reports that Moynihan Station is “sputtering.” However, the article suggests that progress is being made on funding and the developers and the Garden are pleased with Governor Spitzer’s increasing involvement. Apparently, the developers and Garden would like to see Port Authority take over the project (good idea/bad idea?). Elliott Sclar of Columbia University suggests the public will be catching a train in a shopping mall and MAS president Kent Barwick asks, “Why not go ahead with the Farley and give more time for the developers and the Garden to work out the broader vision?” Here are some excerpts:

“Critics say the heart of the original plan — an elegant station — has become almost an afterthought. The developers, Stephen M. Ross of the Related Companies and Steven Roth of Vornado Realty Trust, have proposed building 1.1 million square feet of shops and department stores in the new Penn Station, more than eight times the amount of retail space at Grand Central Terminal.”

“Those critics, who include urban planners and preservations, are also concerned that the Garden’s new arena would overwhelm the Farley building and obscure the proposed train station with a thicket of electronic billboards, ticket windows and glass walls.”

“Public-private partnerships are now one-sided arrangements in which the public actors no longer plan public spaces in the public interest,” said Elliott Sclar, a professor of urban planning at Columbia University. “Instead they facilitate private-sector developments of these spaces in exchange for slight public amenities. In this case, the public gets the chance to catch a train in the basement of a vertical shopping mall.”

“The critics say that given the level of public investment, tax breaks and zoning bonuses involved in the project, the city and state should be giving greater priority to the public spaces. And if that larger plan stalls, government should return to the late senator’s simpler, and less costly, original concept of a new $900 million station in the post office, for which government funds are already allocated.”

Read “Big Moynihan Station Plan is Sputtering,” by Charles Bagli in The New York Times