Still Light at the End of the Tunnel for Second Station on No. 7 Extension

no 7extensionsmall Still Light at the End of the Tunnel for Second Station on No. 7 ExtensionA new subway station at 41st Street and 10th Avenue as part of the extension of the No. 7 subway line is not dead yet.

The main lobbying arm of the real estate industry, the Real Estate Board of New York, has been pushing for months for the Bloomberg administration to build out a second station there on the 1.5-mile extension. The station was cut from plans in 2008, when funding fell short, and without any further funding now, it is unlikely the station could ever be built.

Now, REBNY feels it has a plan that could keep the station alive, but the Bloomberg administration rejects it as unfeasible. Still, the administration, which initially resisted entertaining the late-in-the-game effort, is itself examining other funding options.

Steven Spinola, president of REBNY, said he had a consultant produce a report that recommended about $100 million in work to move utilities, an amount that could keep the option open for later funding to finish the station. The full cost of the station is estimated by the city to exceed $800 million.

“What we’re looking to do is preserve the ability that the station will eventually be built,” he said. “Nobody ever really expected the station to be built immediately–$800 million was not ever going to just come from some add-on in a bill in Washington. But can we do something so that over the next five, six years, money can come in from Washington?”

There is particularly urgent given that REBNY, after a meeting on the topic with an official in Vice President Biden’s office, sees applying for a second round of federal transportation money, a $600 million discretionary pot known as TIGER II, as the most viable way of receiving funding. The deadline for a preliminary application is mid-July, with a final application due in August. Officials expect to get up to $50 million or so for the project in a best-case scenario. (The TIGER funding is expected to be highly competitive.) 

Despite the administration publicly announcing in 2007 that the station would be removed from the extension plans, barring a lack of further funding, REBNY was mostly silent on the issue until recent months, when it appointed real estate broker Mary Ann Tighe as its new chair. Ms. Tighe brokered the deal to bring Ogilvy to the far West Side, and previously said she had not fully realized that there would not be a station. In her new position as REBNY chair, she pushed the board to press the issue.

A spokesman for the Bloomberg administration, Andrew Brent, dismissed Mr. Spinola’s plan as something that would disrupt the current project, which anticipates a line to 34th Street and 11th Avenue by 2013.

“We’re not going to entertain any plans that add meaningful time or cost to the subway extension,” Mr. Brent said in a statement. “If a plan can be worked out that preserves the possibility of a station getting built in the future without delaying or adding cost to the project, we’re open to it. That remains a big if.”

While Mr. Brent did not discuss specifics of the funding plans the Bloomberg administration is exploring, Mr. Spinola said that the city “is continuing to try to find a solution.”

He added: “At the moment, I think they are taking the concern seriously that the station will not get built unless they do something about it, and I think they are exploring the possibilities.” 

ebrown@observer.com