And once again Moynihan Station has hit a bump in the road. The Times today has a story on the newest set of roadblocks for the oft-delayed station. After years of delays the problems plaguing the station can still be summed up in one word: Politics.
We've been waiting for the Farley Post Office to be transformed into a grand entryway to the City in the manner of the Old Penn Station for some time now (the idea has been gestating for well over a decade) and every time we think it might happen something comes and throws a wrench in the plans. Currently there are two big issues holding up the station.
First and foremost is the fact that it is an election year. As you may or may not have noticed, Eliot Spitzer is running for Governor and as such it is not in his or his friends interest for work on the station to move forward while Pataki is still in office. Therefore we get Spitzer's campaign publicly worrying that the station plans have "been rushed," that “Unfortunately, this is part of a pattern of irresponsible actions by the outgoing Pataki administration,” and that the state board “should not approve this project until these unanswered questions are resolved.” The other big hold up is our city's ongoing development boom. The area around the Post Office is ripe for over-development and everybody wants in. Rather then simply let the city build a new station, a group of developers are trying to push forward a far more ambitious plan, cleverly called Plan B, which includes:
the complete renovation of Penn Station, which sits below Madison Square Garden, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The current Garden would be demolished to make way for office towers [and rebuilt on the Ninth Avenue side of the Post Office], a soaring glass canopy and a commercial complex. Across Eighth Avenue, the post office would be converted to an adjunct train station.
As we understand it though this is really just an excuse for developers to grab easy money and for the Dolans, who own Madison Square Garden, to squeeze out public financing for a new stadium (a Ninth Avenue stadium would be the fourth MSG built). Considering their aggressive fight against the West Side Stadium last year and the abysmal state of of the current Garden we can't for the life of us figure out why they'd deserve that. Strangely, we find ourselves in complete agreement with Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff who told the Times : “We’d like to see something move forward now. There’s no downside to going ahead with the current plan. It will not compromise our ability to work out the larger plan.”
Get Moynihan Station done first, then deal with the surrounding area. Please!
A 2005 rendering of Moynihan Station.