The most recent talk about the long-in-the-works Moynihan Station, an expansion of Penn Station into the James A. Farley Post Office building, focused on a possible air rights sale, but a new story in the Times points out that actual, physical progress has been made on the conversion. The first $300 million phase of the project is underway, and the expansion of the existing concourses beneath the post office and the expansion of an underground passageway that connects to Penn Station are both nearly complete. Additionally, yesterday Senator Chuck Schumer asked Amtrak and the Federal Transit Administration for the rest of the money for phase two, which will turn the grand building into an open, light-filled train hall the size of Grand Central's grand hall.
The first phase, to be complete sometime next year, is also installing an emergency ventilation system and building two new entrances at the corners of Eighth Avenue and 31st and 33rd Streets (the building stretches between the streets and all the way to Ninth Avenue).
The progress may not seem like anything to get excited about, but considering this expansion has been talked about for 25 years, any tiny step is worth celebrating. When Moynihan Station, named for the late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who first proposed the project, is complete, Amtrak will move its operations to the new hall, relieving some of the congestion in the hellhole that is Penn Station and providing a much, much nicer welcome portal into the city.
The state has a $700 million budget for construction of the train hall, and $500 million of that has been secured from the city and the developers who were selected in 2005, Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust. Schumer wants the remaining $200 million to come from federal funds.
In addition to the new train hall, Related and Vornado will develop a retail complex in the post office building. The Times also says that the plan calls for the transfer, not sale, of 1 million square feet of air rights "to a nearby site, where they would erect a residential tower." The story does not mention a possible sale of the unused rights, but in late June, the state tapped Massey Knakal to market the rights. They could fetch up to $100 million, which would go toward the development of Moynihan Station.
Originally, Related and Vornado proposed a $14 billion plan that would move Madison Square Garden off of Penn Station (sounds familiar) and into the post office, opening up Penn Station (also sounds familiar), and building a series of towers, but clearly, that did not happen. Gee, wonder why.
· Progress Is Made in Plan to Convert Post Office Into Penn Station Annex [NYT]
· Moynihan Station coverage [Curbed]