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Plans Unveiled for New York’s Moynihan Train Station

Images Courtesy HOK/ James Carpenter Design Associates/ Neoscape

After years of false-starts, it appears the development of Moynihan Station, in New York City , has finally gotten underway. Yesterday, Empire State Development Corporation, which is responsible for promoting economic growth in the state, announced it has selected a team of developers and unveiled a new design for the project. It will be will be located in the Farley Post Office on 8th Avenue, just across the street from the present Pennsylvania Station. That station occupies the site of McKim, Mead and White’s original Beaux-Arts Pennsylvania Station, which was demolished in 1963.

The development team for the $818 million transportation, office, commercial, and residential complex will be the Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust. Its architects will be New York-based James Carpenter Design Associates, with Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabuam (HOK)’s New York office. Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, whose partner David Childs devised an early scheme for the project, will be a consultant. Construction is set to begin next year, and completion is slated for 2011.

The new station, named for the late New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a vocal proponent of the project, will include 300,000 square feet for a soaring, vaulted glass station space that will respect the post office’s grand Beaux-Arts Architecture. The post office was built in 1910, and was also designed by McKim, Mead, and White.

“This is a second-chance to recapture the extraordinary station that was once Penn Station,” said Empire State Development Chairman Charles Gargano. The post office’s façade will be renovated, while any new interior elements will likely be marked in limestone and terra cotta, says James Carpenter. Eleven boarding platforms will service Long Island Railroad, New Jersey Transit, and some Amtrak passengers. The large, undulating glass-and-steel canopy will allow daylight into the space. Carpenter says this help recreate the awe-inspiring sense of scale that passengers once felt when they entered Penn Station. Natural light will be also be filtered down to the tracks via glass “moats” surrounding the building, and through light tubes within the space’s large steel columns. The space will be lined with ticketing and customer service booths, and a retail shops and restaurants.

The new scheme does away with David Child’s preliminary scheme for the station, whose sculptural steel-and-glass canopy was dubbed, “the potato chip,” a glass and steel canopy that rose far above the post office’s roof line. It occupied the “intermodal” space between the current post office and a large warehouse and sorting facility to its west. Carpenter says that design was removed, in part, because the program has shifted to retain much more of the post office than was originally planned. Entry into the new station will take place via 8th Avenue, 9th Avenue, and 31st and 33rd Streets. The intermodal space will likely now serve as a check-in area for passengers planning to travel to local airports.


The Moynihan Station was first proposed in the early 1990’s, and designs were first proposed in 1999. The project has been hampered by numerous delays, caused, among other things, by indecision on the part of the U.S. Postal Service, and financially-strapped Amtrak’s refusal to move from Penn Station.

The project will also include 850,000 square feet of commercial space, much of it located in the large warehouse building on the west side of the Farley Post Office, 250,000 square feet for the existing post office, and air rights for up to one million square feet of housing, likely on the northeast corner of 8th avenue and 32nd street, says Carpenter. New York Governor George Pataki noted that this team’s plan to locate residential development outside the Farley Building itself made it more appealing, so as not to hurt the building’s character.

Construction will be paid for through $105 million in Federal Railroad Administration Funds, $56.8 million in New York State funds, including $35 million which will come from the Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA). The Moynihan Development Corporation, made of representatives from the city and state, will be paying $230 million for the buildin. The developers will make an up-front payment of $150 million at closing. One year later they will pay $40 million, and payment for $84 million will be made in 2010. The city will contribute $133 million in Capital funds, plus $25 million already committed of which $4 million has already been spent. $150 million will be paid by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The New York Department of Transportation will contribute $64 million in the form Congestion, Mitigation and Air-quality (CMAC) funds. A $5 million lease payment from the Port Authority will help pay the cost of a possible link with local airports.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently lost his battle to build a Jets Stadium in the area, now appears to be focusing on the Moynihan project as a catalyst to development on the Far West Side. This is a 60-block zone that extends from the Moynihan Station site to the Hudson River. He said the area, recently rezoned to allow significant commercial and residential development, will be “teeming with life-energy, and activity every day.” Answering concerns that the Far West Side could draw resources from Ground Zero he said, “There is no competition with any other areas. Enhancement of this neighborhood helps the development of all neighborhoods.”

Sam Lubell