Quantcast

Moynihan Train Hall On Track For 2020

The Moynihan Train Hall will host Long Island Railroad and Amtrak services, easing congestion at the underground facilities at Penn Station. Image courtesy Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.
The Moynihan Train Hall will host Long Island Railroad and Amtrak services, easing congestion at the underground facilities at Penn Station. Image courtesy Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.

BY DENNIS LYNCH | Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Tuesday a $1.6 billion plan to redevelop the James A. Farley Post Office Building into a “world-class 21st century transportation hub,” by 2020. The 250,000 square foot Moynihan Train Hall — larger than four football fields — will house both Amtrak and Long Island Railroad (LIRR) ticketing and waiting facilities.

Riders will be able to access nine platforms and 17 tracks at the Hall, which will increase floor space by 50 percent from Penn Station ­— welcome breathing room for 650,000 Penn Station regulars used to the “dirty, dingy, and dark” station beneath Madison Square Garden, Cuomo said.

“With more than twice the passengers of all JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports combined, the current Penn Station is overcrowded, decrepit, and claustrophobic,” Cuomo said. “The Moynihan Train Hall will have more space than Grand Central’s main concourse, housing both Amtrak and LIRR ticketing and waiting areas, along with state-of-the-art security features, a modern, digital passenger experience, and a host of dining and retail options.”

A ground-floor view of the dramatic skylight above the one-acre open concourse of the Moynihan Train Hall at the James A. Farley Post Office. Image courtesy Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.
A ground-floor view of the dramatic skylight above the one-acre open concourse of the Moynihan Train Hall at the James A. Farley Post Office. Image courtesy Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.

The Hall will feature a one-acre, open-floor concourse under a dramatic glass ceiling reminiscent of the original Penn Station that once sat across Eighth Ave. The city’s flagship post office is roughly eight acres large in all, and was designed by McKim, Mead, and White — the same firm that designed the masterpiece Penn Station, which was demolished to make way for Madison Square Garden.

Developers Vornado Realty LP, Related Companies, and Skanska Ab will create 588,000 square feet of office space, and 112,000 square feet of retail and “state-of-the-art security measures,” throughout the rest of the 103-year-old Beaux-Arts post office building, Cuomo said.

The trio of developers will pay the state roughly $600 million “in recognition to the value of the development opportunity within the Farley Building.” Empire State Development Corporation will toss in $570 million for the project, while Amtrak, LIRR, Port Authority, and the federal government will chip in the remaining $425 million.

The first phase of construction at the post office, consisting of building a concourse and expanding the underground corridor between it and Penn Station, is “nearing completion,” according to the governor’s office.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the new train hall will also feature 112,000 square feet of retail and dining space, along with 588,000 square feet of office space. Image courtesy Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the new train hall will also feature 112,000 square feet of retail and dining space, along with 588,000 square feet of office space. Image courtesy Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill.

The post office isn’t the only building getting a new look either. Separately, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will triple the width and raise the ceiling of the LIRR’s 33rd Street Corridor at Penn Station at a cost of $170 million. The authority will also redesign the subway stations serving the 1, 2, 3, and A, C, E trains at Seventh and Eighth Aves., respectively. The subway station improvements are “expected as early as 2018,” and will cost roughly $50 million, according to the Cuomo’s office. The Empire State Development Corporation and Amtrak will independently rebuild the latter’s space at Penn Station.

The state has named the station after longtime US Senator for New York and diplomat Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who first proposed turning the post office into a transit station in the early 1990s. Moynihan championed the project as a way to ease congestion at Penn Station, where he shined shoes as a kid long before his illustrious political career.

Numerous design firms laid out their proposals over the years, but there was little concrete action. Moynihan died in 2003, and two years later, then-Governor George Pataki tapped Related Properties and Vornado to head the redevelopment of the post office.

The firms wanted to move Madison Square Garden off from atop Penn Station and over into the Farley Post Office Building to make room for a tower or mall, but that proposal fell through, along with many of their subsequent development plans. Cuomo booted them from the project earlier this year after a decade of inactivity, but ultimately invited them back.

More from around NYC