New Yorkers and visitors alike are going to witness a grand transformation the likes of which New York has not seen in a century — one of which will cost an estimated $3 billion.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the state is willing to invest billions in infrastructure statewide. An integral part of statewide infrastructure improvements will include accepting proposals for a public-private partnership to completely overhaul Penn Station.
Cuomo said that the winning private developer may foot the cost — in exchange for retail and commercial rights.
Saying that the station is the most traversed in the hemisphere, Cuomo added that the hub's cavernous, labyrinthine design is counter to New York's spirit. "It is dark. It is constrained. It is dated. It is a lost opportunity," Cuomo declared. "Frankly, it's a miserable experience."
As such, the governor said that as part of a massive overhaul of the state's infrastructure, the state will solicit proposals to bring Penn Station into the 21st century, including:
- Closing 33rd Street and using skylights and a new entrance to bring natural light to the concourse below.
- Removing the MSG theater to create an 8th Avenue "grand entrance" with commerce, retail and commercial space with a block-long entrance to Penn Station across the street from Farley Post Office.
- Opening the new site through new entrances at the corners and mid-block at MSG and Penn "so you take the four corner entrances, and you take the mid-block entrance, and you open them up," Cuomo explained. "Again, the common theme is access, light and air into Penn Station."
- Creating a Seventh Avenue "grand entrance."
- Undergoing no major exterior renovations but instead focusing on the inside of Penn Station "so you'd have better navigation in Penn, wider concourses, a better passenger experience," Cuomo said. Under that plan, the state would "be redeveloping the Farley Post Office" too with the two complexes being joined underground.
Cuomo added that joining the proposed redeveloped Farley Post Office and Penn Station will "double the capacity if not triple the capacity, which will make one complex which we call the Empire State Station."
The state plans to start accepting proposals for the redevelopment this week and will be accepting plans for the next 90 days.
The construction cost is expected to cost in excess of $3 billion, of which $325 million will come from government sources, including USDOT, Port Authority and Amtrak.
Though work will be "expedited," according to the governor's office, completion is estimated to be completed in the next three years, with Farley opening before Penn Station’s redevelopment is finished.
Touching on the time it's taken to seriously address the station's deficiencies, Cuomo was characteristically candid.
"What is amazing is how long it has been tolerated," he said. "It's not like Penn was a secret. It has gone on for decade after decade after decade."