A strong transportation network is the cornerstone of any major city but for many years the City That Never Sleeps was asleep at the wheel when it came to upgrading its bus and rail stations. New York’s Penn Station, and Port Authority Bus Terminal werenoticeably left back in the dark ages with when it came to modernisation. Other US cities such as Denver, Dallas and Miami have stepped into the future with their slick, light and airy transit hubs as have numerous ones throughout Europe and Asia. The good news is that the Big Apple is finally ready to take a bite out of their play books. However, if they want to take pointers, both stations could do far worse than looking to see what’s happening in other parts of the city.
The Cuomo administration announced in June that it completed a $1.6 billion deal with a group of private developers which will completely transform Penn Station. As well as train halls for Amtrak and the Long Island Railroad, the Fairley Building will also house retail and commercial space. Construction giant Skanska will handling the building, investing $630 million of its own money into a partnership with the Related Cos and Vornado Realty Trust. In return they operate and collect income from the 700,000 square feet of office and retail space.
New York State will contribute $550 million and Amtrak, the MTA and Port Authority along with Federal Grants the remainder.
The new facility will connect under ground to the new western concourse and will be called Moynihan Station.
Nearby, development at Hudson Yards is continuing at breakneck speed. With additional development at Pier 57 (250,000 square feet), soon to be Google’s new NYC home and at Waterline Square, next to the Hudson, four blocks west of Central Park, with stunning new condos, a large section on the west side of Manhattan will be transformed.
Progress, alas, has been less forthcoming with the much maligned Port Authority Bus Terminal. The organization has set aside $3.5 billion for the terminal redesign. After an open call for architects to come up with new renderings, many of which suggested moving the site, the latest
noise seems to in favor of building on the terminal’s current site between 8th & 9th Avenues at 41st & 42nd Streets. It comes after feedback from the local community.
The fact that the terminal is still in the planning and deciding stages doesn’t auger well for the hundreds of thousands of commuters who use the facility everyday and complain of its dark, claustrophobic interior and dated design. By keeping the Bus Terminal instead of moving it further west as was originally touted, the proximity to Times Square and Penn Station will be maintained along with the all important A-Train accessibility.
Amid the the outdated NYC transit system, Grand Central, which operates Metro North trains as well as 4,5,6,7 and Shuttle trains, has been a beacon of light. Majestic and airy with stunning marble architecture, rezoning in Midtown East is paving the way for a slew of new development in the area which was once thought of as something of a dead zone. One of the most talked about buildings in the area is currently under construction. One Vanderbilt will rise to about the same hight as the Empire State building and be the tallest office tower in Manhattan, standing alongside the historic rail terminal. Elsewhere in the area office leasing has been robust with RXR Realty leading the way with a number of projects.
“Tenants have always sought Grand Central for its proximity,” RXR’s in-house counsel, Mitti Lierbersohn said. “High-end financial users have historically been driven to Park Avenue for its cache, but the new tenants populating 530 Fifth Avenue are those seeking an extra cool factor beyond convenience. RXR has been a step ahead of these groups, providing an organically collaborative environment.”
Indeed, with entertainment companies, food halls and restaurants now occupying the Grand Central area and the station itself a long time refuge for commuters with its historic architecture, an Apple store and restaurants, New York’s other transit locations could stand to learn a thing or two by seeing what’s happening around East 42nd St.