The City Council held a hearing today on a controversial proposal to relocate Madison Square Garden in order to revamp Penn Station.
The Garden's 50-year permit to occupy its current site expired in January, and in December 2012, the Garden filed an application for an in perpetuity permit, which would allow it to remain at that location indefinitely.
The City Planning Commission put forward a recommendation for a 15-year permit, but advocates for the push for a new Penn Station testified at the hearing, highlighting the issue of a loophole in the CPC recommendation.
The loophole would allow the Garden to remain there in perpetuity if it makes a deal with the railroads that operate within Penn Station.
The advocates urged the Council to provide the Garden with a 10-year permit, which they say is sufficient time to find a new site and build a new arena.
And it appears they have some significant support with some significant lawmakers: namely City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who wrote a letter to MSG President and CEO Hank Ratner today expressing support for a 10-year permit for the Garden's current location.
"Planners erred 50 years ago when they permitted Madison Square Garden to operate in this location without land use review for half a century," Quinn wrote. "The ten-year period will... give us time to create and implement a plan for the future of the site, and the entire area."
Quinn cited new development initiatives in the area, such as Hudson Yards, noting that the increase in business and residents will undoubtedly make the already overcrowded Penn Station, already the busiest traffic hub in the nation, even busier.
She also pointed to the Garden's history: the Garden existed in two separate iterations at its original site at Madison Square Park and was relocated to 50th Street and 8th Avenue before it ultimately landed on top of Penn Station.
In perhaps the most significant point in her letter, Quinn called for a new commission to be charged with finding "a new Manhattan home for a state-of-the-art Madison Square Garden" and creating a new, revamped Penn Station to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of passengers that flood through daily.
Just a few weeks ago, the Alliance for a New Penn Station held a design competition, soliciting proposals from four of the city's top architecture firms. Each firm pitched a vision for a new Penn Station, as well as a new location and design for Madison Square Garden.
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