Within hours of word spreading that Governor Andrew Cuomo waspoised to announce a radical plan for the renovation of Penn Station, that plan has arrived. On Wednesday, Cuomo announced a forthcoming Request For Proposals that will be issued by Empire State Development, Amtrak, and the MTA later this week for the renovation of Penn Station, as well as the remaking of the neighboring Farley Post Office, into the Empire Station Complex at a total cost of $3 billion. The $2 billion redevelopment of Penn Station may entail razing Madison Square Garden's Paramount Theater and adding new entrances on Seventh Avenue or 33rd Street and a glass wall and entrances along Eighth Avenue, the Times reports. Whichever developer's proposal is chosen will control all the retail in Penn Station, and that's huge.
Another Request For Proposals will be issued for the $1 billion remaking of the James A. Farley Post Office into a waiting area for Amtrak passengers, complete with shops and office space. One developer can nab both projects if their proposals are chosen. Developers Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust, who were chosen to redevelop the post office into Moynihan Station in a decade-old agreement, aren't out per se: they're welcome to submit proposals, and if their vision for the site is not selected, the state is required to reimburse the developers upwards of $30 million. The two developers are at an advantage, though—they're intimately knowledgeable about the station and post office, and that'll be a boon being that the state wants proposals submitted within 90 days. The Real Deal says Cuomo is gunning to have the redevelopments complete within the next 3 lightyears.
The main goal of the $3 billion redevelopment is to bring more light and air into the station while alleviating some congestion. "Frankly, it's a miserable experience," Cuomo said of the existing terminal. The Executive Vice President of the Municipal Arts Society, Mary Rowe, applauded the project in a statement but doesn't think it will be enough to deal with the station's influx of passengers, "[I]n the long term, these improvements won't be enough to fully address Penn Station's severe overcrowdingor meet the growing needs of its rapidly developing neighborhood and our regional economy."
Exactly how the project will be financed is up in the air, but Cuomo is expected to address it in next week's State of the State speech. At least $325 million will come from government sources, like Amtrak, the Port Authority, and the federal government. The Wall Street Journal suggests that the station's and post office's air rights may be leveraged to finance the project. In July, Cuomo announced a similarly ambitious plan to revamp LaGuardia Airport.