New York officials call on engineers and architects for Penn Station redesign concepts

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Tuesday, June 27, 2023
NY engineers, architects can submit concepts for Penn Station redesign
Gov. Hochul said Monday marks the launch of the design process for upgrades at Penn Station.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- New York officials are calling on design firms, engineers and architects to draw up a plan for a new Penn Station design that keeps both commuters and the community in mind.

Demonstrators follow Governor Kathy Hochul to every Penn Station press conference. Heckling her-taunting her-determined to goad her into submission. And on Monday, it finally seemed to work.

"We will take their advice and their input because this is their neighborhood as well," Hochul said. "Phase one to me begins here today with the beginning of the design process," Hochul said. "We're going to be opening up the opportunity to really just focus on this building and the immediate surrounds to create a beautiful space that the neighbors have been waiting for."

In a dramatic about-face, the governor announced plans to redevelop Penn Station without touching the neighborhood surrounding it. With soaring glass ceilings and a broad marble concourse not unlike the Moynihan Train Hall directly adjacent to it.

"I understand the cynicism around this, but when they see the plans-the scope of the project, the design plans that we're soliciting-they have nothing to do with the exterior, other than landscaping and making it beautiful," Hochul said.

The original plan was not only to rebuild Penn Station, but to reconstruct the neighborhood-razing entire blocks to make way for ten skyscrapers, each more than one thousand feet tall. Luxury apartments, stores and office space. Unveiled by Hochul just last year, but the economy no longer supported it-not just the residents.

A victory for neighbors like Mirna Rodriguez.

"As far as them renovating, I'm 100%. I'm with it," Rodriguez said. "I agree they should, definitely. I mean, it's needed. It's about time, right? But they don't have to go to 30th and 31st Street and destroy that block."

And it's a win for commuters. Because a more realistic proposal is more likely to get built.

"It's bright, it's not dark and dingy the way it is today. So I think it'd be awesome for us, totally," one commuter said.

This comes just a few days after the governor unveiled the Moynihan Connector allowing people to reach the High Line from the Moynihan Train Hall without having to cross multiple streets.

The two bridges effectively link West Midtown to the West Village, but those behind the project said it's about more than just convenience for pedestrians.

"For years our neighbors in our community have talked with us about how unsafe, inaccessible, unwelcoming the streets around the Lincoln Tunnel have been," said Alan van Capelle, Executive Director of Friends of the High Line. "The connector is an answer to that problem, a green, welcoming, safe, accessible space."

The next phase of the project plans to connect the High Line westward to Hudson River Park.

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