The new Moynihan Train Hall was the first step of that “21st Century Empire Station Complex,” which was unveiled at the start of 2021. Now, Governor Kathy Hochul has taken over the project with her own insights and advancements.
This fall she revealed her new plan — which scaled back Cuomo’s original endeavor — as well as new renderings of what the completed project would look like. And now, they are officially seeking firms to begin designing and guiding the Penn Station reconstruction.
The project will be helmed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), in partnership with Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT. NYC Mayor Eric Adams has also expressed support for the renovation, saying “We are going to turn an embarrassment into a symbol of what’s great about our city,” according to NBC News.
Hochul said it will be a “commuter-first” station and that neighborhood changes will “reflect the community’s needs and focus on public transit and public realm improvements.” The overarching plan involves completely revamping the current Penn Station (which they now have room to do since Amtrak operations moved to the new Moynihan Train Hall), and developing the surrounding neighborhood — which includes 10 new skyscrapers — to help finance the multi-billion dollar project.
It has also recently been met with criticism and questions from the City Planning Commission, who have requested a clearer breakdown of how the project will be funded and how that could in turn affect city tax payers. Others have commented on the historic New York buildings that will be lost as the new towers go up (the century-old Hotel Pennsylvania is currently being razed by the Vornado Realty Trust, which would be developing the new buildings).
The main features of the new proposal — which Hochul said was created after hundreds of meetings with key community players over the course of several months — include:
A single level, double-height train hall that doubles passenger circulation space on the new public level and eliminates cramped and overcrowded passageways in existing Penn Station (removing an existing floor).
A 450-foot long sunlit train hall, the size of Moynihan’s and Grand Central’s halls combined.
Eight acres of public space, including a 30,000-square foot plaza comparable to Rockefeller Plaza.
Up to 1,800 residential units in the new buildings, of which 540 would be permanently affordable.
Requiring that 40% of every building frontage is an “active use” such as retail and community facilities.
“The era of neglecting our Penn Station commuters and the neighboring community is over,” Governor Hochul said.
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 project will cost between six and seven billion dollars and is expected to take between four and five years to complete after construction begins, which could be as soon as next year.
You can read even more details of the new plan on the MTA website here.
Note: this article was updated after its initial publication to reflect City Hall’s recent support of the project and also critiques of the plan by other city agencies.