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admin 24.02.2015

So far the plan has received all cheers, but a historic opportunity requires a serious conversation. Late last month, the New York City Council told Madison Square Garden it has 10 years to find a new location. Some brief background for the unfamiliar: the splendid original Penn Station was demolished in 1963 and replaced with the current stadium-station complex. There's unanimous agreement that the current Penn Station, a drab underground tunnel trapped below the Garden, is a monstrosity unbecoming of a great city. The 10-year clock for moving the Garden and planning a new Penn creates a historic opportunity for whoever becomes the next mayor of New York.
But no one seems to be asking where all the people who currently move through the Garden will go. To conclude: every New Yorker, if not every frequent Northeast Corridor traveler, wants a better Penn Station. Sign up for our monthly newsletter, covering New York City and the world of urban planning. Penn Station is North America’s busiest train station, operating at three times the capacity for which it was built. MAS is acting now to insist that MSG’s life on top of Penn Station be limited to 10 more years. This 10-year period gives us the time to develop a real and workable plan to move MSG and build a world-class train station. To launch this effort, MAS is announcing the Design Challenge for a New Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. The City Council will decide the fate of Penn Station early this summer. Now is the time to take a stand to right the wrong our city suffered when MSG was built above Penn Station. Make your gift today to celebrate 120 years of MAS and to ensure a better future for our magnificent city. The news was a clear sign that the city intends to advance ideas for building a new Penn Station, which exists on the same site.

If billions are spent merely giving Penn a facelift, it's reasonable to wonder how much money and motivation will be left for the crucial work of actually improving regional mobility. A broad plan for a renovated Penn Station district, released this summer by the Municipal Arts Society, estimated that 10.4 million square feet of new office space in the area would "be readily absorbed" within 30 years. The Garden does smother Penn Station right now, but that situation also means there's a direct, underground connection between the two venues. Throughout our proud history, we have been a leader in shaping the world-class city that New York is today – from saving Grand Central Terminal to advocating for a plan for East Midtown which truly serves the public interest to charting a course for a more resilient city in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
As you read this, the owners of Madison Square Garden are applying for a permit to operate the arena on its current site – above Penn Station – in perpetuity.
It is anything but a grand entrance to New York’s vibrant hub of commerce and culture for the city’s commuters and visitors. Four of New York’s most well-known and respected design firms will partner with MAS to offer clear and compelling visions for what a new Penn Station and a relocated MSG could be. 120 years of MAS’s civic leadership and activism has led us to this critical moment – will you partner with us to strengthen our voice and ensure it is heard?
As MAS’s history has shown, with great ideas, public support and a lot of hard work, we can accomplish amazing things together. In the end, the most iconic arena in the Northeast went up against the most congested travel hub in North America, and lost. But opponents of that plan convinced the council to reconsider — most notably, Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, who called the present Penn Station a "calamity," and the Municipal Arts Society, which solicited lovely renderings of a new one. Indeed, so far the news of a potential new Penn Station has been received with loud cheers and little criticism. Every day, several hundred thousand people move through Penn Station to ride Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, Long Island Railroad, and six New York City subway lines.
The Garden has moved several times in its history, and if it has to move once more, it will certainly thrive in its new home, too.

With 320 events a year at the Garden, which holds about 20,000 per event, that's 6 million more people who would flood already crowded midtown streets if the arena moved. New York City deserves a world-class train station and truly dynamic arena, but if we approve MSG’s special permit, we will have neither. The construction of Moynihan Station across the street from Penn will create a new home for Amtrak travelers, but that project has financial obstacles of its own, and Amtrak accounts for a rather small percentage of Penn traffic. Such expectations may need to be tempered, especially since nearby areas of Hudson Yards and Midtown East will also be creating vast amounts of office space during the same time period. But for the billions it will cost to remodel Penn Station and move Madison Square Garden, the city could pay for a number of key transportation projects with greater potential to enhance mobility.
Kimmelman and others have suggested giving the Garden a new waterfront space just south of the Javits Center, a few avenues west of its current location atop Penn Station. What additional transport projects will be required to accommodate this new foot traffic — over and above the costs of a new Penn Station itself?
What's less clear is how much of that increase was tied to improved accessibility, which requires transportation improvements in addition to a new physical station, and brings us back to question number one.
These include a long-awaited tunnel across the Hudson, future phases of the longer-awaited Second Avenue Subway, or the "X line" subway route through the outer boroughs (where more and more commuters are heading anyway). That would give the Garden an attractive space near Hudson Yards, the High Line, and the emerging 7-train extension.

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