The expiration of Madison Square Garden's permit has fired up advocates and local officials who want this opportunity to be used to improve Penn Station. The local community board, Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer, architecture critics, and the Municipal Art Society want the special permit to only be renewed for 10 years so they can figure out a plan to lop off the arena and reimagine Penn Station. It's a lofty, semi-fantastical idea, and MSG is sick and tired of hearing about it. The company would like everyone to know that they have no plans to move.
The Times brings to our attention the strongest worded statement the arena owners have released regarding the whole debacle:
The Garden?a company that has recently invested nearly $1 billion in its arena and helps drive the city's economy by supporting thousands of jobs and attracting hundreds of annual events?is being unfairly singled out because of a decision that was made 50 years ago: to demolish the original Penn Station. Adding an arbitrary expiration for reasons unrelated to the special permit process or requirements would not only set a dangerous and questionable precedent, but would also hinder our ability to make M.S.G. and New York City the long-term home of even more world-class events, and would harm a business that has served as a significant economic driver for the city for generations.
The question of why MSG's permit was only for 50 years is not answered in the original document. Stringer reads this as fact that the city planners felt that the "day might come when the station was no longer as underused as it seemed then." Thus, they wanted to leave a window for improvement. One could also conclude that there was a 50 year limit because MSG did not own the property, but rather leased it from the railroad. However that's no longer true; MSG, Inc. has owned the site outright since 1985.
There may be quite a bit of resistance to renewing MSG's permit indefinitely, but the local officials and community board who want a 10-year permit don't actually have any official decision-making abilities. The ultimate decision will be handed down by the City Planning Commission.
· Madison Square Garden Says It Will Not Be Uprooted From Penn Station [NYT]
· Madison Square Garden coverage [Curbed]
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