Tunnel project to impact Midtown businesses

June 4, 2010 3:45:37 PM PDT
Scores of Midtown Manhattan business and building owners are being forced out by construction of a $9 billion commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River. "This is where I need to be for my business," Mina Mann said.

Mann designs and hand makes luxurious evening wraps.

Her products are sold around the globe, but her world is about to change.

All of the businesses inside 110 West 34th Street must relocate. The building is being torn down to make room for a new multi-billion dollar rail project.

"It's very hard to just plop down in a new space and start working right away," Mann said.

This will eventually be one of the entrances to the new commuter rail system, called ARC, a partnership between the Port Authority and New Jersey Transit.

Two new tunnels will run from the river at 29th Street, northeast to 34th where a station will be built.

Officials say the project is vital right now.

"If you've ever ridden Amtrak or NJ Transit trains in and out of New York City, you know about the bottle necks and you wait, that's because there is only one track in and one track out," Stephen Sigmund of the Port Authority said.

In order to move forward, officials say 7 buildings will have to be completely demolished and another 7 partially altered.

They're trying to work out deals with the owners, but have not ruled out exercising eminent domain.

Ninety-three businesses will have to set up shop elsewhere. That's a big blow to Julie Schworm. She works at Christine A. Moore millinery. Even though the Port Authority says it will help affected businesses find new space, she's worried.

"We're so close to all the fabric stores and suppliers, so to be uprooted from that will sort of change the way she's going to have to do things," she said.

In the fall, prep work here on the Manhattan side of this project will begin. About a year later crews will start digging the twin tunnels

A public hearing is scheduled for sometime in early July.