News yesterday that Madison Square Garden’s owner, the Dolan family, will renovate instead of moving across the street to the Farley Post Office seemed to doom the planned Moynihan Station, but the head of the project said today he thinks the family’s decision "isn’t irrevocable."
"We just need a lot of strong public leadership to get to the point where, you know, [the Dolans] see the project as a potential reality," Vishaan Chakrabarti, president of the Moynihan Station Venture (a team of the Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust) said at a real estate luncheon today. The $14 billion Moynihan project would create a new transit hub to replace the aging Pennsylvania Station.
The luncheon, put on by CoreNet Global, an association of real estate executives, included a panel discussion with Mr. Chakrabarti as well as with executives from Brookfield Properties and Tishman Speyer. The latter beat out Vornado this week for the 26-acre $1 billion project. Brookfield backed out of the rail yards bid last month.
Given all the history, program chair Marcus Rayner, of CresaPartners, joked that the audience "might be forgiven for confusing this panel as an assembly of the victor and the vanquished." The tone was friendly, though, with each panelist explaining his firm’s respective project, and Brookfield’s Joshua Sirefman saying that, with five acres to develop on Ninth Avenue between 31st and 33rd streets, "we have our hands full."
If the Dolans ultimately insist on renovating rather than relocating the Garden, Mr. Chakrabarti said, it would create a "dramatically inferior transportation scenario," with less public space in the station, and limited access to the railroad tracks, which narrow as they run west from Penn Station to the post office. One of the biggest virtues of the current Moynihan plan, Mr. Chakrabarti said, is its airy, open design. New Jersey and Long Island commuters, he said, would finally get to experience what their counterparts from Westchester and Connecticut get at Grand Central Terminal: a central atrium filled with light.
All three panelists stressed their companies’ commitment to incorporating green design into their respective parcels in the Hudson Yards area. The city, with its requirements for extensive parking facilities under a new zoning plan, might be the one that should worry about carbon footprints, Mr. Chakrabarti said.