Manhattan’s Penn Station is gross, smells like shit and is the armpit of the city. New York State Governor Andy Cuomo agrees. Which is why he’s super enthusiastic about renovating the James A. Farley Post Office Building, across the street from Penn, into a “magnificent” train hall.
Now, Cuomo is confident that turning the building into a massive train hall “will actually happen,” according to The New York Times. He’s flush with confidence, and also with monaaay. Here’s how much:
Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said his administration had selected a team — the developers Related Companies and Vornado Realty and Skanska AB, the giant construction management firm — for the $1.6 billion plan. He announced the plan at a luncheon for the Association for a Better New York, a business organization.
According to state officials, all of the necessary approvals are in place, as well as the funding. The developers would pay New York State about $600 million, which would include an upfront payment of $230 million and annual payments in lieu of taxes over 30 years, which the city has to approve. The developers would also provide the state an unspecified share of the retail revenues at the train hall and, possibly, advertising, officials said.
Empire State Development, a state agency, would contribute $570 million toward the remaining cost, much of it coming from the probable sale of Farley’s air rights. Amtrak, which owns Penn Station; the Long Island Rail Road; the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and the federal government would put in a combined $425 million.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the proverbial cesspool that is Penn Station, let me explain. It’s where the Long Island Rail Road, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains all converge to dump commuters. On top of that (or under, rather), two subway lines also run through it.
The New York Times estimates that over 600,000 commuters and travelers run, sprint, jog and canter through the sea of grunge every day. That is triple the amount of people that the station was designed for.
Most of it is dingy and the spaces are occupied with food joints like the ever-classy TGI Fridays and the only Krispy Kreme location in the city. It’s lit by fluorescent lights like a high school gym locker room and gives off pretty much the same air of nobody-actually-wants-to-be-there.
It’s a real pity, because Penn Station used to be beautiful like Grand Central is today, with soaring ceilings and tall columns. That was all demolished in the 1960s in the name of progress and Madison Square Garden.
The renovated Farley train hall would serve as a new home for Amtrak and the LIRR. Yet, because the LIRR has only a few tracks under the post office, it’s not really clear how the new train hall would help out those commuters, as Politico smartly points out.
The train hall would have a one-acre-sized glass skylight and a 70,000-square-foot balcony with “high-end” restaurants and stores. Because that’s exactly what Manhattan needs more of: high-end anything.
In addition to the plan, it’s rumored that Cuomo has also signed a deal with the Ringling Bros. Circus to provide guests with endless entertainment while they wait for their delayed trains.
Expected to open in the very near and ambitious future of December 2020, I shudder to think of what kind of traffic disturbances construction to the Farley building will cause. Eighth Avenue is a huge thoroughfare and closing even one lane of it for construction would also create havoc.