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Schumer Wants Focus on Penn Station (Updated)

In somewhat of a prologue to our panel discussion on Tuesday, Senator Charles Schumer told a Crain’s Breakfast Forum today that the city should focus on Moynihan Station and the extension of the 7 line before developing the Hudson Yards. According to a report from Crain’s:

The senator reiterated his call for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to take over management of the struggling Moynihan Station project, a new transit hub at the Farley post office. He said plans should proceed assuming Cablevision won’t change its mind about renovating the current Madison Square Garden instead of building a new arena at the Farley site, but that “parallel tracks” should be laid in case the company changes its mind. Progress might inspire it to do so, he said.

Mr. Schumer said Cablevision has told him it is willing to move its Wamu Theater, formerly known as the Felt Forum, which would allow a project to bring natural light into the dreary Penn Station below. He added that Amtrak should immediately free up 200,000 square feet at the station, which it owns, by moving “clutter” to a building it owns just south of the cramped transit hub.

The senator proclaimed a Port Authority takeover “likely to happen” and said that the agency, unlike the Empire State Development Corp., has $2 billion available and the expertise to bring Moynihan to fruition. “ESDC is not capable of being a major development agency here,” he said bluntly to approximately 300 businesspeople at a midtown hotel.

Mr. Schumer called on the city to create a special zoning district around Penn Station with density bonuses to encourage commercial development. Adding more office space will position the city to take advantage of the inevitable economic upturn, he said.

UPDATE

According to the Observer, Mayor Bloomberg responded to Schumer’s comments at a press conference this afternoon, indicating that the city “would never agree” to the Port Authority taking over the project. “We certainly would never agree to the Port Authority being in charge of it because they can’t get done what they have to do downtown and the Port Authority’s first job has to be downtown and I don’t see how they could satisfy us at this point in time that they can take on that and do everything else,” he said.

Here is a video of the Mayor’s comments.

Read “Schumer Calls for West Side Development,” by Erik Engquist for Crain’s