Mooooh-lah-an Station

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The state agency behind the creation of Moynihan Station unveiled a new design today by David Childs, but the biggest question was not answered: What is happening with relocating Madison Square Garden? If the Garden does hop a block west, to the Ninth Avenue backside of what is presently the Farley Post Office and what will become the train station, it would almost certainly require design changes. But the agency’s chief, Charles Gargano, would not touch on that, saying that he had seen no proposal. Nor would Vishaan Chakrabarti, whose company, The Related Companies, will lease and develop the non-train portion of the building along with Vornado Realty Trust, show his cards.

Notice from the adjacent rendering that Childs did not reinstitute the so-called potato-chip skylight that was lost when HOK and Jamie Carpenter took over the project last summer (only to be replaced by Childs shortly afterwards). Why? It would have destroyed the building’s facade and hindered the ability of Related and Vornado to qualify for historic preservation tax credits.

Those credits, Gargano said, were worth “$100 million or even hundreds of millions.”

Which raises the question, Can the Garden move to the backside of Moynihan without disturbing the facade and jeopardizing those tax credits? Since hardly anyone at the press conference would acknowledge that a deal with the Garden was in the works, it made answering that question impossible.

One thing worth noting that comes up in the General Project Plan: Related and Vornado will be making payments in lieu of taxes–not substantial ones, perhaps, but the city will be getting something out of this deal. More, in fact, than if Madison Square Garden stays where it is with its perpetual tax exemption. All the more reason for Mayor Bloomberg, reluctant until now to get on board the M.S.G., um, train, to embrace his former enemies who own the arena.

Matthew Schuerman

Mooooh-lah-an Station