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West Side to Grow Around Old Garden?

A story posted Friday in The Real Deal raises a series of questions about the future of Moynihan Station if MSG cannot be brought back to the negotiating table:

Insiders familiar with the negotiating process told The Real Deal that these public officials, who recently demanded that the Garden would have to accommodate Moynihan Station, are now shifting tack, suggesting that the train hub and the planned office development around it could move forward with the Garden in place…Because the city must rezone the area once the station's plans are hashed out, the developers could still find ways to create office space in the area, possibly by promoting the idea of a continuous office district between Moynihan Station and nearby Hudson Yards, where Tishman Speyer plans to build about 8 million square feet of office space.

What does moving forward on the train hub with the Garden in place mean? Is the writer referring to building the Farley station or improvements to the existing Penn Station?

One can reasonably assume that a monumental, spacious, and well-designed train hall – a primary public benefit of the project – will not be possible underneath a renovated Madison Square Garden.

If the Garden renovates in place and the Moynihan East station is abandoned where is the public benefit? How will the developers get the rights to develop “a continuous office district”? And what will happen to our tax dollars?

Read “West Side to Grow Around Old Garden,” by Alec Appelbaum in The Real Deal

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Update: Rendering Reactions

A few noteworthy comments we received on the rendering posted yesterday:

“We might be able to take the renderings a little more seriously if the one on the left didn't only show half of the Farley Building 9th Avenue facade. Obviously whoever drew and/or reviewed it isn't showing excessive sensitivity to the existing context.”

”Exciting. Details are details. Let's get it built.”

”details ARE details, and they are important. "let's get it built" is exactly the gung-ho-development attitude that got the original Penn Station torn down and MSG 4 erected in it's place. Let's not do that again.”

”I mean really, why does MSG need to move? Couldn't we achieve the same amount of train hall space in the gorgeous post office building without having to build a new architecturally dated glass monstrosity? And furthermore sticking an arena dome on top of the post office is going to be a horrendous architectural foul. If they must put MSG in the post office isn't there someway to make the addition blend into the current building?I do not like one single part of this plan."

"One used to enter the city like a god, now one meanders through like a mall shopper.”

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We’ve Seen the Rendering: Here are 5 Questions

The Friends of Moynihan Station (MAS is co-chair) released the first rendering of Moynihan East a few days ago, apparently received from the ESDC (although it’s not to be found on the ESDC web site). While it’s a relief to finally see a rendering, it also raises some questions.

1. Does this plan illustrate the 1.1 million s.f. of retail on the Moynihan East block?

2. There seem to be six new buildings in the rendering. Is this all the 4.5 million square feet of development rights? If not, were will the rest go?

3. Has the Hotel Pennsylvania (#17 on our map) been torn down in this plan? What about the other historic buildings like Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church (#38 on our map) or Former Equitable Life Insurance Company Building (#6 on our map). We can’t tell, but it seems that the new buildings are sited on them. Click here to see our map of historic resources in the Moynihan Station area

4. What is the property ownership structure for this plan? Have some privately owned properties been acquired? Click here to see a map on property ownership that we made.

5. Is that a big round kiosk on the corner of 31st Street and Eighth Avenue?

What do you think about these plans? Do you have any questions? When do you think will we get to see the detailed plans?

Meanwhile, today The Observer reports Moynihan Station “seems on the edge of collapse.”

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A Proposal to Reuse MSG for Moynihan East

Think of Madison Square Garden as it exists today. Then imagine it as a light-filled glass container with terraced gardens down to the concourses of a renovated Penn Station. That's how a Columbia preservation studio envisioned its future.

Under the current plans for Moynihan Station a new MSG arena will be erected in the annex of the Farley building. The current MSG structure will be demolished and replaced with a contemporary train station (Moynihan East) and a 1.1 million-square-foot predominately retail development.

Last year a group of preservation students at Columbia presented a creative proposal for an "urban oasis" in the current MSG structure. "We think the developers should adaptively reuse the arena structure, incorporating it into the new development," they said. They describe MSG's cable-supported roof structure - "the most contemporary and sophisticated of its time" - as the most significant aspect of the arena.

The report makes the following design recommendation:

"Preserve MSG IV’s structure and cable roof for Moynihan East: The Paramount Theater inside the Arena may be removed since it is no longer a part of MSG’s future. This will bring light into Penn Station and provide an above grade presence."

For the reuse they propose an "urban oasis:"

"To redeem the structure in the public’s eye, the arena floor may be removed and a garden can terrace down into the concourse giving commuters an urban oasis. We also envision a refacing of the MSG drum, playing with transparent and opaque glass."

The students argue that adaptive reuse not only preserves an architecturally significant structure (mainly the roof) - but it also recycles the energy it took to construct it.

What do you think of their argument? Should the arena structure be incorporated into Moynihan East? Is it possible to redevelop the train station without demolishing the arena?

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What Does 1.1 Million-Square-Feet of Retail Look Like?

Yesterday, we posted about the Venture’s plans for 1.1 million-square-feet of retail in Moynihan East.

In order to wrap our heads around that number – which is larger than the total square footage of the current Madison Square Garden – we compared it to other major retail centers in the city and created a flickr slideshow (make sure it's set to show captions). Here’s what we discovered:

1.1 million-square-feet of retail is approx.

9 times the size of the retail space at Grand Central Terminal (120,000 sq. ft.)

6 times the size of the retail space at Atlantic Terminal (192,000 sq. ft.)

3 times the size of the retail space at Time Warner Center (350,000 sq. ft.)

Is it possible for any architect to realize an “iconic and distinctive” train hall with “well lit, spacious concourses” if it must be surrounded by the equivalent of 3 Time Warner Center malls? Or 10 Target stores?

Do you have photos of comparable developments? Send them our way and we'll add 'em to the slideshow.

Click here to watch the slideshow. Click "options" and check "show title and description."

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MAS Urges Alternative Plan for Moynihan East Retail

The Moynihan Station project proposes 1.1-million-square-feet of retail development (see p. 19 of the Draft Scope) for Moynihan East, the new train station that will rise on the current site of Madison Square Garden.

Retail development has contributed to the revitalizations of Grand Central Terminal (right), Union Station in Washington, South Station in Boston, and other great train stations throughout the world.

Everyone agrees that retail can add liveliness to a station, but is 1.1-million-square-feet too much?

The fact is 1.1 million is a larger square footage than Madison Square Garden itself, which smothers the current Penn Station. We think it’s reasonable to ask whether an even bigger development will provide enough physical space for an iconic, day-lit, and spacious station to grow.

In order to ensure adequate space and to limit major train disruptions during construction, the MAS has recommended allowing the transfer of more development rights to the Moynihan Station subdistrict as an alternative (see p. 10). We'd rather see some of the development sprinkled throughout the district than concentrated on Moynihan East.

We’ll be posting several items about retail in train stations throughout the week. How much and what type of retail would you like to see? Comments are welcome.


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