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To Save Penn Station, Just Move Madison Square Garden

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Times architectural critic Michael Kimmelman has once again picked Madison Square Garden as the target of his biting prose. Seriously, he's been hating on the arena for a long time. His big advice for how to reclaim and redeem icky Penn Station, in the same way London did with its St. Pancras and Kings Cross railway stations? Move MSG somewhere?anywhere?else. There's a window of opportunity to do just that, since Madison Square Garden's permit to operate is up for renewal. Kimmelman urges the officials not not sign off a license that would allow the Garden to operate in its current location indefinitely, which is what the Dolans, who own it, want. Give them 10 more years, and buy some time to figure out where to move it or, at the very least, give the ugly thing a much-needed redesign.

To drive home the point that Penn is in dire straits, Kimmelman makes it clear that diverting some Amtrak trains to the Farley post office building (which would be renamed Moynihan Station) across Eighth Avenue won't be enough. What about LIRR and New Jersey Transit? And the MetroNorth trains that will, eventually, end up at Penn? Over 400,000 people pass through the station on a daily basis, more than twice the number it was meant to handle. Oh and it's "a shabby, hopelessly confusing entry point to New York, a daily public shame on the city." So obviously we should move MSG. The arena has moved before. Twice. But to where, and how?
1) One possible location is an ailing U.S. Postal Service building, the Morgan General Mail Facility, which is southwest of the Garden's present location. The USPS wants to sell off property and raise funds anyway, right? Says Kimmelman: "A new Garden there, still convenient to mass transit, could become the centerpiece of a populist gold mine of leisure and commercial development."

2) Eh, pawn it off on the site of the "inadequate, misplaced, money-losing and outmoded" Javits Center. There's lots of space over there by the river, and Governor Andrew Cuomo's redevelopment efforts last year didn't pan out.

3) Even if we can't agree on an exact place to put Madison Square Garden, elected officials should capitalize on this moment as a chance to effect some actual change (and win over voters). Kimmelman points out that Cuomo can basically force MSG to move. Even Council Speaker Christine Quinn can, if she takes a stand. "Next to never does a city have an opportunity to rectify a mistake as colossal as Penn Station," he urges. "Ambitious political leaders should seize this moment."
· At Penn Station, Seizing a Chance to Right a Wrong [NYT]
· Penn Station coverage [Curbed]