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Governor Cuomo unveils plans for Penn Station's massive revamp

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Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans for the forthcoming revamp of Penn Station

Brace yourselves, New Yorkers: a new Penn Station is officially coming—for real this time. Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans for the forthcoming Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex, along with announcing the developers and builders who will collaborate on the project. The plans call for a brand new, 255,000-square-foot train hall, which will accommodate both Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers, that’s scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020. (Yes, you read that date right.)

This comes after Governor Cuomo announced an RFP for the revamped complex back in January, seeking partners to work with the Empire State Development Corporation, Amtrak, and the MTA to revitalize Penn Station—which the governor today called "the LaGuardia of train stations" (and we all know how much he loves that particular piece of transit infrastructure).

Unsurprisingly, the partnership is made up of some of the real estate business's biggest names: Related Companies, Vornado Realty, and Skanska. Those three companies will work together, using the designs proposed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, to bring the revamped Penn Station to life.

Here are the biggest takeaways:

  • The James A. Farley Post Office building has been "reimagined from the original plan," which had called for the building to hold only Amtrak. Now, it will measure 250,000 square feet (larger than Grand Central Terminal), and will be known as the Moynihan Train Hall. It will hold Amtrak and the LIRR, along with 700,000 square feet of retail and office space. The design is similar to the renderings, created by SOM, that were revealed in January, with a dramatic glass skylight (meant to reference McKim, Mead & White's old Penn Station) arching over the concourse.

  • The LIRR concourses that currently sit within Penn Station will be redeveloped, and headed up by the MTA. This will include "nearly tripling the width of the 33rd Street Corridor, which is among the busiest sections of Penn Station and stretches along the station’s lower level from Seventh to Eighth Avenue." An RFP will be issued for this work today, and a contractor may be chosen before the end of the year.
  • Both subway stations that service Penn Station—the A/C/E at Eighth Avenue and the 1/2/3 at Seventh Avenue—will be completely redone in keeping with the MTA’s plans, announced earlier this year, to upgrade 31 stations throughout the entire system.

There are many other elements to the redesign: for example, the revamped Penn Station will get a tech-friendly upgrade, with free Wi-Fi, USB and laptop charging stations, and real-time train updates to be installed throughout the concourse.

Cuomo estimated that the Train Hall will cost about $1.6 billion altogether, with $600 million coming from the developer of the retail within the hall; $570 million from the Empire State Development Corporation; and $425 million from Amtrak, LIRR, Port Authority, and the federal government. Revamping the LIRR corridor within Penn Station will cost $170 million, and the subway station revamps will cost $50 million.

Less clear from the massive presentation that Cuomo unveiled during today’s presser (which was actually a luncheon for the Association for a Better New York) was SOM’s role in all of this. The firm has been attached to the Moynihan redevelopment for decades, and it provided new renderings of the Train Hall and the LIRR concourse, but they were not mentioned by name during the half-hour presentation.

SOM issued a statement, saying this: "SOM has provided pre-construction architectural, engineering and consulting services for the Train Hall work and will continue in that role thru the Construction Phases of the Train Hall. SOM is also the architect for the Related/Vornado/Skanska team and we look forward to working with them on the next phase of the project.​"

There also wasn’t much talk of how Madison Square Garden will factor in to all of this, though there was this:

So there you go, New York: a "world-class 21st-century transportation hub," all due to arrive (God willing) by 2020. What do you think of the plans? Share your thoughts in the comments—the renderings for the new Moynihan Train Hall are below:

And the new LIRR concourse renderings:

Watch: Take a tour of Grand Central Station