It’s been a bad week for massive urban-planning projects. First came news that Madison Square Garden would be renovating instead of moving into the Moynihan Station megadevelopment across Eighth Avenue.
Negotiation via blind items drives epochal real-estate projects, as well as ballplayers' contract haggling, and we've uncovered reasons to view recent stories about the Moynihan Station struggles as part of an encouraging trend on the project. For one thing, Governor Spitzer has personally entered negotiations. Spokesman Errol Cockfield confirms that last week Spitz convened his first face-to-face meetings with the Dolans (who own Madison Square Garden) and the developers who own air rights to the intended Moynihan site. One player intimate with the negotiations described this as “shuttle diplomacy,” and apparently it's had an effect.
You may have seen a bunch of renderings of potential designs for the land above the Hudson Yards in this morning's papers. But as one of the teams' lead architects pointed out to us, "The challenge is, your eye immediately goes to the buildings, but it's unlikely any of the buildings are going to look like this. That's the challenge to the MTA, to boil down fundamental issues for the public." So instead, we're giving you one of the images that probably will find its way into reality if its team is selected — one for the long, narrow green space looking eastward from the Durst/Vornado proposal. That might just be the glass arc over the proposed Moynihan Station that you see in the distance. But meanwhile, what is Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling doing in the foreground on the right? —Alec AppelbaumRelated:The Next 'West' Thing [NYP]
Five Companies Bid to Remake Six Blocks of Hudson Yards Area [NYDN]
So it seems the longtime president of the Municipal Art Society, Kent Barwick, who's run the preservationist organization for nearly four decades, is stepping down. The Crain's story reporting this news, which we happened across today, notes the Society's major accomplishments under Barwick: leading the effort to save Grand Central, preventing Mort Zuckerman from building huge towers on the old Coliseum site that would have cast large shadows on Central Park, pushing for waterfront parks and development, and, Society chairman Philip Howard told Crain's, "building a magnificent new Moynihan Station." Oh? We'll admit we haven't been up Eighth Avenue in the Thirties in a week or two, but, um, we really think someone would have told us if there were a magnificent new Moynihan Station. Right?
Municipal Art Society Head Stepping Down [Crain's NY]
It's tough to keep track of what's going on with Moynihan Station. Seemingly decades ago, the late Senator Pat Moynihan came out with the idea of relocating Penn Station into the adjacent Farley Post Office, a 1912 building designed by McKim, Mead, and White to complement their old Penn Station across the street, now tragically destroyed. The idea picked up steam and sometime around last year, when it had grown into a major office-and-entertainment complex, anchored by the train station but also including a relocated Madison Square Garden and several new towers, it seemed set to go. Then in October it was delayed, and in December it was killed. According to yesterday's Times, though, now it's back again, and it's even bigger than before:
In the next three weeks, two of the city’s largest developers will unveil new plans for rebuilding the station, moving Madison Square Garden, replacing the Hotel Pennsylvania, and erecting a pair of skyscrapers, one of which would be taller than the Empire State Building, over the site of the existing station.
Huh. Look at that. Last we were paying attention, we were pretty sure Moynihan Station was dead. (Delayed in October, shot down in December, we thought.) But then, this morning, Gotham Gazette's indispensable "Eye-Opener" pointed us to a Daily News squib from Saturday: The state's Public Authorities Control Board — you know, that three-member group Shelly Silver uses to block development he doesn't like — has approved the financing plan that would allow the Empire State Development Corporation to buy the Farley Post Office building from the Postal Service. Guess this means the thing's back on. Who knew?
Moynihan Sta. Gets a Key OK [NYDN]
Earlier:Moynihan Station, an AutopsyIt's Over, and It's Over
So what the hell happened yesterday with Moynihan Station, the new, presumed-to-be-gorgeous Penn Station that seemingly everyone wants but never actually happens? Well, as we know, Shelly Silver killed it. But why? Excellent question. And one that turns one's attention to New York's politics savant, Chris Smith, for answer. Seems there are many agendas at play, from all the stated ones to an unstated wish to hold things off till Spitzer's term to win some favors from the new governor. Oh, and there's more. Smith explains it all over at Early and Often.
Moynihan Station Choked by Political Strong-arming [Early and Often]