Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steve Roth told investors Tuesday that he wants to redo Penn Station in a scaled-back version of the grand Moynihan Station plan, moving Madison Square Garden’s WaMu theater out of the arena structure to make way for a large train station entrance hall.
Despite a push by Vornado and co-developer Related Companies to keep the larger-scale project alive via government support, Mr. Roth indicated he considers that scenario unlikely.
“[We] basically feel that something good is going to happen,” he said. “Either that the governments are going to get their acts together, which they probably will not, or … we have with Madison Square Garden a Plan B, which is they stay where they are, we take out the theater, we—underneath the seating bowl of the arena—put a new grand entrance to Eighth Avenue and a new grand entrance to the station on Seventh Avenue, and what that will do is create a grand train station. Not quite as grand as moving it, but pretty nice. Actually, spectacularly nice.”
The large-scale plan has undergone numerous twists and turns, and the developers have recently been pushing the Paterson administration, via the Port Authority, to buy Madison Square Garden and its air rights so as to move the project forward before the Garden renovates.
Should the state not agree to such a move, which could cost nearly $2 billion, it seems the focus will turn to how best to renovate the existing Penn Station, and, from the point of view of the developers, how any air rights might be able to be captured from those improvements.
Further, Mr. Roth said that the “Plan B” would add just as much value to Vornado’s property as if the original plan went forward.
“Our company’s principal interest in what happens with this Moynihan, Madison Square Garden, et cetera deal is to improve the value and increase the value of our adjacent eight million feet, which we believe we can do equally as well with Plan A or Plan B,” he said.