August 2017
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Plan for Moynihan Station Coming in Three Weeks, Notes New York Times

In a July 4 article by Charles Bagli, New Grandeur for Penn Station in Latest Plan, the New York Times notes: In the next three weeks, two of the city’s largest developers will unveil new plans for rebuilding the station, moving Madison Square Garden, replacing the Hotel Pennsylvania, and erecting a pair of skyscrapers, one of which would be taller than the Empire State Building, over the site of the existing station. Though the new plan is broadly similar to a proposal offered a year ago, it is different in several important ways, starting with the cost: $14 billion, double that of the original plan, a real estate executive who has seen the plan said. It is also bigger than anticipated: the entire plan, involving buildings on six adjacent blocks, would create 10 million square feet of new office space off West 33rd Street, as much as in the old World Trade Center. The developers, Stephen M. Ross and Steven Roth, have also burnished their vision for the station, which would be renamed after Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who championed the original idea. Civic groups and the head of the City Planning Commission, Amanda M. Burden, had complained that last year’s plan treated the underground station as an afterthought, without a grand public space worthy of the country’s busiest transit hub. The new plan would try to recapture the imposing aura of the original station inside the James A. Farley Post Office across the street, with a vast, street-level waiting room under a glass canopy that would spill sunlight onto the concourse two levels below. In the next three weeks, the public will get its first, albeit sketchy, look at the new plan when the Spitzer administration takes the first step in an environmental review of the project’s potential impact on the neighborhood. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I think the stars are aligned to do this,” said Patrick J. Foye, co-chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, the state authority overseeing the project. Thus the story of the new Penn Station, Moynihan Station, begins again. The Times article presents some of the issues, but there are many more to come in a project this important. Among them are the cautions offered by community watchdogs including the Municipal Arts Society. Bagli notes: But Kent L. Barwick, president of the Municipal Art Society, a civic group that has met with the developers, said that it was “inappropriate” for the state to put the project on the fast track and begin an environmental review before “the design, the financing and all the implications are on the table.” I hope that the Moynihan Station development is an example of New York City learning from its past mistakes and taking a wiser direction. A few years ago Grand Central Terminal was threatened by unwise development. Wiser heads prevailed and we now have a restored train hub that is vital with retail shops and restaurants and is a ceremonial gate at the south end of Park Avenue. Let’s use this chance to make Moynihan Station a place where New York cleans up the embarrassment that is the current Penn Station and makes some restitution for the destruction of the original Penn Station forty years ago.