New York Governor Unveils Commuter-First Vision for Penn Station and Revitalized Surrounding Neighborhood
The new neighborhood plan comes after several months of collaboration and more than 100 meetings with community stakeholders, government agencies, and elected officials to improve on past plans and establish a new way forward. The plan will also be subject to further public review, and the announcement is part of a larger public process that remains ongoing.
"I'm reimagining the New York City commuter experience. New Yorkers do not deserve what they have been subjected to for decades at Penn Station," Hochul said. "The era of neglecting our Penn Station commuters and the neighboring community is over. New York leaders are expected to offer visionary ideas and take bold actions, and that's exactly what my proposed transformation of Penn Station accomplishes. This plan puts New Yorkers first, delivering the rider-focused transit experience and great neighborhood they deserve. Investing in Penn Station means investing in New York's future as we recover from COVID and build a more sustainable, livable city."
The current Penn Station — the Western Hemisphere's busiest transit hub — serves more passengers than LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy, and Newark Airports. The relocation of Amtrak's operations to the new Moynihan Train Hall provides the opportunity to overhaul Penn Station, eliminating the bulk of the first subterranean level to open up the main concourse to natural light, improving retail and other user amenities, increasing safety and security, expanding passenger circulation areas, expanding entrances and exits, and making it easier for passengers to navigate within the station as well as connect to their destinations beyond. The reconstruction of the station is expected to cost from $6-$7 billion, and will take place between four and five years after the commencement of construction.
In terms of the surrounding development, which will help fund the project, Hochul's new proposal still achieves the necessary revenues while scaling down the previous plan, and expanding community and public realm benefits. The new plan takes into account recommendations from the Community Advisory Committee Working Group (CACWG), which worked in consultation with Empire State Development, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Amtrak, and NJ Transit. The CACWG will continue to inform the plan through its build-out, and Hochul is directing the MTA to actively engage community stakeholders, transit, sustainability, and planning experts, as well as users of Penn Station from across the region, in the process of finalizing the project.
Reimagining the station is part of the Hochul's commitment to ensuring equitable transit access and achieving economic development. This will be particularly beneficial for users of the forthcoming Metro-North stations in the East Bronx (Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester, and Hunts Point), for whom travel times to and from Midtown will be reduced by up to 50 minutes as a result of Penn Access.
Key features of the new proposal include:
New Train Facility
- Creates a single level, double-height train hall that doubles passenger circulation space on the new public level from approximately 123,000 square feet to approximately 250,000 square feet and eliminates the congested, cramped, and crowded passageways in existing Penn Station
- Includes a 450-foot-long sunlit train hall that is the size of Moynihan's and Grand Central's halls combined
- Simplifies navigation
- Creates clear sight lines to exits and entrances
- Adds 18 more escalators or stairs and 11 more elevators to platforms
- Shaves off 1.4 million square feet of development from the previous plan and decreases heights for proposed buildings.
- Provides new design controls to protect views of the Empire State Building along 33rd Street
Public Realm and Social Services
- Adds around eight acres of public space, including a 30,000-square-foot plaza comparable in size to Rockefeller Plaza and mandates public space set-asides on each building site
- Creates a Public Realm Task Force comprised of community leaders and stakeholders, which will develop a plan of prioritized public realm improvements, to be funded by a Public Realm Fund, with initial revenue from redevelopment being dedicated to this fund
- Requires community facility spaces that will prioritize social services for the neighborhood, with a particular focus on New Yorkers experiencing homelessness
- Creates underground loading/unloading for MSG, taking trucks off the street
- Allows up to 1,800 residential units, of which 540 would be permanently affordable
- Mandates one building as residential, which will include 162 permanently affordable units — more than the entire number of residences that would be displaced if the southern expansion of Penn Station occurs
Public Transit Access and Shared Streets
- Expands new underground corridors to the Sixth Avenue IND line, allowing users of the 34th Street Herald Square Station (B, F, M, N, R, W lines) access to Penn Station
- Nearly doubles the existing entrances to Penn Station from 12 to 20, and requires developers to add additional subway entrances and exits directly to and from buildings, ultimately reducing density and congestion at over-crowded entrances
- Widens sidewalks throughout the neighborhood and recommends that 31st, 32nd, and 33rd Streets become shared streets that prioritize pedestrians
- Adds protected bike lanes and expands bike parking while reducing vehicular parking
- Limits the size of new building commercial lobbies
- Requires that 40 percent of every building frontage is an "active use" such as retail and community facilities