NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan Monday to transform the existing Penn Station into a world class facility.
CBS2’s Alice Gainer took a closer look at how exactly the state plans to go about doing that.
Cuomo calls it the “Empire Station Complex.” It would join the current Penn Station, the under construction Moynihan Train Hall and another new facility. That new facility would require the state to take a block of land near Penn Station.
And then there’s the question of paying for it.
Watch: Gov. Cuomo Unveils Empire Station Complex Plan
According to officials, more than 650,000 passengers come through Penn Station every day. It’s too crammed and too outdated, they said.
“Right now it’s very, very congested,” said commuter Christian Velez.
“We want to change it into a world class experience. Different ceilings, retail, et cetera. The entire old Penn Complex has to be redone,” Cuomo said.
But how do you do that without disrupting commuters even more? Cuomo says at the end of 2020, Moynihan Train Hall is set to open, including a new entrance on Seventh Avenue.
“Both the Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak move from Penn and into Moynihan Train Hall,” Cuomo said.
It will add more terminal space, but no more tracks. Right now, there are only 21 tracks in Penn Station.
“We believe the best alternative is to expand by acquiring the block south of Penn Station and increasing the footprint that way,” Cuomo said.
He says doing so would add eight more tracks, and with that additional terminal space you can close down parts of old Penn Station for reconstruction.
The block he’s talking about is between 30th and 31st Streets between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.
“The current block south of Penn has a number of real estate holdings. Amtrak owns property there. The Archidiocese of New York office, residential use, community facilities. The state will plan to acquire it for public use,” Cuomo said. “So buying or using eminent domain to buy the land.”
The governor didn’t talk numbers, but says funding to pay for the new complex would come from revenues generated from new development in the district. That’s called PILOT, or Payments in Lieu Of Taxes, made to Albany, not to New York City.
Amtrak, owner of Penn Station, will participate in planning and financing. The MTA says it’s happy with the plan. The Riders Alliance, after a bad morning of delays today, said “The subway still demands the governor’s attention and focus. He must expedite MTA plans to make the subway reliable and accessible for the millions who depend on it every day.”
Cuomo did not give a timeline for the project. He says they’re also talking about possibly acquiring or converting the theater abutting Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue into an entrance that would also allow sunlight in.