Submitted by Elif Merve Unsal
Reimagine, Rebuild, Renew: A $51 Billion Redevelopment Plan For Manhattan's Midtown West is Unveiled
United States Architecture News - Jan 23, 2021 - 15:46 2169 views
"I sit in the office and live in the home occupied at one time by FDR. Part of Roosevelt's genius was that he understood that it was not the buildings and programs themselves that actually turned around the economy, it was the people," Governor Cuomo said. "Building new projects enhances day-to-day life. Seeing progress lifts peoples' spirits. And building with bricks and mortar also builds public optimism and confidence."
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York last week delivered his 2021 State of the State address. The Governor's 2021 agenda "Reimagine | Rebuild | Renew" features a suite of initiatives to not only begin reopening New York as the state continues its work to defeat the COVID-19 virus, but also investing billions into infrastructure improvements to build a new New York.
While outlining his 2021 agenda, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a multi-faceted plan to transform over 100 acres of Midtown West as part of a new “transit-oriented” proposals focused on transforming Manhattan's Midtown West neighborhood. The $51 billion redevelopment scheme is part of Cuomo’s proposed $306 billion infrastructure plan, the largest in the nation.
Parts of the Midtown West redevelopment project have already been formally announced, are in-progress or completed, including the decades-in-the-making opening of the Penn Station-adjacent Moynihan Train Hall connection designed by SOM this month. Along with the Moynihan Train Hall, the projects include a long-awaited Port Authority replacement, the extension plans for High Line that would transverse the West Side Highway and end at Pier 76, adding up to 1,400 units of new affordable housing and improving transportation infrastructure to create jobs, spur economic development and bring existing infrastructure into the 21st century.
"Now we will expand our vision with a new Manhattan Midtown West development project to create a new West Side transit hub, and build upon it with new residential, commercial and public works projects that will combine to form a new, vibrant, exciting district extending over 140 acres,” Cuomo said. “Now 140 acres may not sound like much in Upstate New York, but in Manhattan it is massive."
Rendering of Empire Station Complex. Image © Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
At the center of the project is the further development of Penn Station, which Cuomo described as a “cluster of catacombs.” Designed to handle 250,000 commuters per day but saw 650,000 in 2019, the transit hub is one of the nation’s busiest. To add transit capacity and commuter comfort, Cuomo wants to create the Empire Station Complex, which would link an upgraded Penn Station, the Moynihan Train Hall, and a new terminal, dubbed Penn South, that will be built one block south of the existing site. By acquiring property south of Penn Station, the complex could be expanded to 40 percent more train capacity and at least eight additional underground tracks to cut down on delays and improve operations for the more than 600,000 passengers it serves daily.
Per the Governor’s Office, the “signature transportation project” will generate nearly 60,000 direct jobs and “anticipates the Gateway Project, including two tunnels to bring more trains across the Hudson from the west and the renovation of the two existing tunnels, for a total of four train tunnels from New Jersey and beyond.”
Rendering of Empire Station Complex. Image © Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
Cuomo’s ambitious plan includes the long-discussed move to completely replace the aging and labyrinthine Port Authority Bus Terminal with a new facility that would help to “not only reduce congestion on city streets and improve air quality but transform mass transit to and from the West Side of Manhattan,” according to a press release issued by the Governor’s Office. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will replace the outdated terminal with a new state-of-the-art facility to better serve the over a quarter-million daily passengers.
Rendering of future Port Authority Bus Terminal. Image © Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
To the south, the plan also includes the expansion of the Jacob K Javits Convention Center, led by design consortium LendLease Turner, which is already underway and is due to complete in March 2021. New York City’s primary convention center will gain, among other things, an acre of urban rooftop farmland with the rooftop pavilion, 90,000 square feet of additional exhibition space, and an outdoor terrace with room for 1,500 people.
Along with the Empire Station Complex and expansion of Javits Center, Cuomo also revealed plans for a northward extension of the High Line that would transverse the West Side Highway and end at Pier 76. The pier is currently used as the site of an NYPD tow pound and it would be redeveloped and transformed into 5.6-acres of new riverfront parkland within Hudson River Park as part of the expansive Midtown West revamp. In the short term, it can become a magnificent public space that allows visitors access to the waterfront while the Hudson River Park Trust develops plans for Pier's long-term future.
Rendering of Hudson River Park. Image © Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
Image © Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
“Connecting the High Line to Hudson River Park is something we have explored since our earliest days as an organization,” said Robert Hammond, co-founder and executive director of Friends of the High Line. “Our communities and neighborhood groups have expressed overwhelming support for this connection, which would give people the ability to walk from Penn Station to Hudson River Park and only have to cross one street. The plan would not only improve public safety and mobility in the area but also serve as a way for New Yorkers to better access all of the incredible offerings in the district. We are thrilled to work with the Governor and our community to bring this incredible plan to fruition.”
In addition to these projects, a total of 14 new buildings designated for a mix of residential and commercial use are planned for the area between Broadway and the Hudson River. Per Cuomo’s plan, the area would see the addition of over a dozen new buildings across more than 20 million square feet of retail, commercial, and residential development, including 1,400 units of affordable housing.
Perhaps most notably, the infrastructure overhaul set to radically transform Midtown West and improve transportation throughout the region also entails plans for residential and commercial development that would span from Broadway to the Hudson River. Governor Cuomo said; “History teaches us that when the private economy is lagging the public sector can spur activity. That when unemployment is high, the public sector can create jobs. That only the public sector can build the common economic platform for growth. Across the state, we’re now building bigger and better and laying the foundation for our future. Not even COVID stopped us. We used the period of reduced traffic to accelerate projects throughout the state. Altogether we are expanding our infrastructure plan to invest $306 billion in the future of New York. That’s not just the largest infrastructure plan in New York history. It’s the largest, most ambitious plan put forward by any state in the nation.”
In addition to the $306 billion infrastructure plan and the ambitious redevelopment of Midtown West that’s part of it, Cuomo also provided updates on major ongoing projects across the state including the Buffalo Skyway, the Albany Skyway Conversion, the Binghamton University Health Sciences Campus, and last but not least, the new LEGOLAND theme park in Orange County, as part of his 2021 State of the State.
Top Image: Rendering of Empire Station Complex © Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo