Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the start of major construction for the $1.6 billion redevelopment of the Farley Building into the Moynihan Train Hall, a new transportation hub, at a time when he is facing calls to fix the flailing New York City subway system.
The project will consist of a new, 255,000-square-foot train hall for Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak passengers and increase total concourse floor space in the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex by more than 50 percent. The Farley Building train hall — named after the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan — will also house 700,000 square feet of new commercial, retail and dining space within the mixed use facility.
Cuomo said that workers finished demolishing the former sorting room slab five months ahead of schedule, which will allow Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP and Skanska USA, the developer-builder team, to start full construction of the train hall, including the one-acre skylight.
Cuomo told the hundreds-strong crowd that “it was a long time coming” and that it “warms my heart” to see Moynihan’s vision “come to reality.”
“This was a hard project,” he said. “It was complicated. It was difficult. It was expensive. It was transformational, which is exactly why it had to get done.”
The train hall is expected to be complete by 2020. It is being funded with $550 million from the state; $420 million from Amtrak, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority; and $630 million from the joint venture developers.
Skanska said that since September 2016, it has torn down 6,000 tons of concrete and gotten rid of about 800 tons of steel as well as an extra 400 tons of hazardous materials. It also removed one acre of concrete and steel flooring to permit future sunlight on the Concourse level from the new skylights.
The company also said that restoration has started on the exterior facade and the interior courtyards and on 31st Street and that 100 tons of new steel have been added to the train hall. And it has started new openings to accommodate escalators carrying passengers to the platform level. Three of the six underground train platforms are shielded and ready for the demolition process to proceed.
Cuomo met Moynihan in 1982 when his father, Mario Cuomo, was running for governor and Moynihan was running for re-election.
“We spent a lot of time during that election period and he had such a profound and lasting impression on me, such a strength of character, such vision and he called it the way he was whether or not it was popular or easy and he was going to tell you the truth.”
Maura Moynihan, Moynihan’s daughter, said that she was in a “state of shock” because she promised her father that she would get the station built when he was on his death bed in 2003. She thanked all the union workers and said Cuomo was the one who helped push the project forward.
“Governor Cuomo will forever be praised by the nearly 1 million commuters who have to suffer the indignity of the pit for releasing them from purgatory and giving them a safe and a beautiful and a meaningful way to come in and out of this great city,” Moynihan said.
The project is part of the $2.5 billion transformation of the complex that Cuomo announced in January 2016 to modernize and redesign the hub.
The announcement comes amid the “Summer of Hell” afflicting the New York City subway system that has seen the governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio clash over who should a subway turnaround plan proposed by MTA Chairman Joe Lhota. The MTA is a state-run agency and thus under Cuomo’s authority. The governor has expressed interest in a congestion pricing plan while the mayor is pushing for a tax on wealthy New Yorkers to finance subway repairs and reduced rates for low-income New Yorkers.
As the press conference was underway, New York Communities for Change protested outside the station demanding that the governor fix the subway system.