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Update: Rendering Reactions

A few noteworthy comments we received on the rendering posted yesterday:

“We might be able to take the renderings a little more seriously if the one on the left didn't only show half of the Farley Building 9th Avenue facade. Obviously whoever drew and/or reviewed it isn't showing excessive sensitivity to the existing context.”

”Exciting. Details are details. Let's get it built.”

”details ARE details, and they are important. "let's get it built" is exactly the gung-ho-development attitude that got the original Penn Station torn down and MSG 4 erected in it's place. Let's not do that again.”

”I mean really, why does MSG need to move? Couldn't we achieve the same amount of train hall space in the gorgeous post office building without having to build a new architecturally dated glass monstrosity? And furthermore sticking an arena dome on top of the post office is going to be a horrendous architectural foul. If they must put MSG in the post office isn't there someway to make the addition blend into the current building?I do not like one single part of this plan."

"One used to enter the city like a god, now one meanders through like a mall shopper.”


We’ve Seen the Rendering: Here are 5 Questions

The Friends of Moynihan Station (MAS is co-chair) released the first rendering of Moynihan East a few days ago, apparently received from the ESDC (although it’s not to be found on the ESDC web site). While it’s a relief to finally see a rendering, it also raises some questions.

1. Does this plan illustrate the 1.1 million s.f. of retail on the Moynihan East block?

2. There seem to be six new buildings in the rendering. Is this all the 4.5 million square feet of development rights? If not, were will the rest go?

3. Has the Hotel Pennsylvania (#17 on our map) been torn down in this plan? What about the other historic buildings like Saint John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church (#38 on our map) or Former Equitable Life Insurance Company Building (#6 on our map). We can’t tell, but it seems that the new buildings are sited on them. Click here to see our map of historic resources in the Moynihan Station area

4. What is the property ownership structure for this plan? Have some privately owned properties been acquired? Click here to see a map on property ownership that we made.

5. Is that a big round kiosk on the corner of 31st Street and Eighth Avenue?

What do you think about these plans? Do you have any questions? When do you think will we get to see the detailed plans?

Meanwhile, today The Observer reports Moynihan Station “seems on the edge of collapse.”


Mom and Pop Among the Chains

To wrap up retail week, we’re posting a brief video from a recent MAS panel on retail diversity. On Wednesday, Michael Ewing described how he worked with the MTA to bring local NY retailers into Grand Central, which contributed to its revitalization during the 1990s. A few of the local retailers eventually became chains of their own. The case of Grand Central is interesting in light of the retail plans for Moynihan Station. After all, the Draft Scope for the project describes a retail development of 1.1 million SF on the current site of Madison Square Garden and future site of Moynihan East. That's about nine times the size of the retail in Grand Central. We're concerned that too much mall will prevent the development of a monumental and spacious new train station and the lack of detailed plans for the station certainly raises a lot of questions. Will we see a mix of local/chain similar to Grand Central? How much big-box will it include? Will it allow for a railway station that works?

Among the topics addressed by the panel:

Why is the number of chains increasing in New York?

What is the impact of chain stores on a community?

How can we improve retail diversity?

The relationship between affordable products and retail diversity

The video was taken at an MAS Continuing Legal Education panel entitled “Mom and Pop Among the Chains: Law, Policy and Urban Retail Diversity.”

The panel included Vicki Weiner of the Pratt Center for Community Development, Michael Ewing of Williams Jackson Ewing, John Shapiro of Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates, and Michael Berne of MJB Consulting.


Interview with Michael Ewing, Developer of Grand Central Retail

Michael Ewing is principle of Williams Jackson Ewing, a retail real estate development, leasing, and consulting firm based in Baltimore, and developer of the tremendously successful restorations of Grand Central Terminal and Union Station in Washington, D.C.

In 1994, Williams Jackson Ewing and LaSalle Partners were awarded the rights to redevelop Grand Central Terminal. Williams Jackson Ewing conceptualized, merchandised, leased and opened 119 stores and restaurants, which include a mix of local New York favorites and popular chains. Prior to becoming partner at WJE, he was Vice President at The Rouse Company from 1972-1985.

Ewing is widely recognized as a thought leader on urban retail development trends. He talked to New Penn Station about the retail plan at Grand Central, making public/private partnerships work, and the retail potential of Moynihan Station ("a lot of retail," but could work).

Click here to read the interview.


What Does 1.1 Million-Square-Feet of Retail Look Like?

Yesterday, we posted about the Venture’s plans for 1.1 million-square-feet of retail in Moynihan East.

In order to wrap our heads around that number – which is larger than the total square footage of the current Madison Square Garden – we compared it to other major retail centers in the city and created a flickr slideshow (make sure it's set to show captions). Here’s what we discovered:

1.1 million-square-feet of retail is approx.

9 times the size of the retail space at Grand Central Terminal (120,000 sq. ft.)

6 times the size of the retail space at Atlantic Terminal (192,000 sq. ft.)

3 times the size of the retail space at Time Warner Center (350,000 sq. ft.)

Is it possible for any architect to realize an “iconic and distinctive” train hall with “well lit, spacious concourses” if it must be surrounded by the equivalent of 3 Time Warner Center malls? Or 10 Target stores?

Do you have photos of comparable developments? Send them our way and we'll add 'em to the slideshow.

Click here to watch the slideshow. Click "options" and check "show title and description."


MAS Urges Alternative Plan for Moynihan East Retail

The Moynihan Station project proposes 1.1-million-square-feet of retail development (see p. 19 of the Draft Scope) for Moynihan East, the new train station that will rise on the current site of Madison Square Garden.

Retail development has contributed to the revitalizations of Grand Central Terminal (right), Union Station in Washington, South Station in Boston, and other great train stations throughout the world.

Everyone agrees that retail can add liveliness to a station, but is 1.1-million-square-feet too much?

The fact is 1.1 million is a larger square footage than Madison Square Garden itself, which smothers the current Penn Station. We think it’s reasonable to ask whether an even bigger development will provide enough physical space for an iconic, day-lit, and spacious station to grow.

In order to ensure adequate space and to limit major train disruptions during construction, the MAS has recommended allowing the transfer of more development rights to the Moynihan Station subdistrict as an alternative (see p. 10). We'd rather see some of the development sprinkled throughout the district than concentrated on Moynihan East.

We’ll be posting several items about retail in train stations throughout the week. How much and what type of retail would you like to see? Comments are welcome.