POP QUIZ! Which NYC terminal handles more than 250,000 passenger trips on weekdays, is a destination for tens of thousands of commuters from New Jersey, has leaky ceilings, faulty air conditioners, dirty rest rooms and frequent delays? If you guessed Penn Station you would be wrong. It’s the Port Authority. OK, so maybe you read our headline and took a good guess.
For the past several years there has been feuding between New Jersey and New York on plans for the Port Authority. Just last week things seemed to be closer to working out, as The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced that it is starting a formal environmental review process. The process would include the replacement of the facility which was built in the 1950’s and is in terrible shape.
One of the first plans, which has now been nixed, was to construct a new terminal a block west of the existing terminal. This didn’t go over well with New York lawmakers and community leaders. As to be expected in many cases, community leaders accused the bistate agency's New Jersey contingent of ignoring their concerns and blundering ahead without their input.
The plan is to now build a new terminal on the site of the current facility. If you need directions, it’s at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue. This seems to be the current leading option. According to Port Authority Executive Director Richard Cotton, it is also the focus of preliminary engineering discussions.
Now we get to the part that we all wonder…how much will it cost? The estimated cost of a new bus terminal could be as much as $10 billion, and construction likely wouldn't be complete for at least a decade.
If you are interested in learning more, a planning document will be available for public review and comment during the next four months. Then come the public hearings in July and September2019.
Readers should know that the Port Authority operates the region's bridges, tunnels and transit hubs. The agency also owns the World Trade Center site. Back in 2014 the agency was criticized for not including money to replace the terminal in a 10-year capital plan. Then in 2017, the authority's board approved $3.5 billion for the terminal in a revised 10-year plan after months of political back and forth.
We will close with some Port Authority gossip. John Degnan, the former authority chairman had to recuse himself from the bus terminal negotiations because of allegations of favoritism to New Jersey's interests. Then New Jersey legislators accused Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of holding the bus terminal project hostage. They say it was to preserve more money for a redevelopment of New York's LaGuardia Airport.
As of now, eminent domain is off the table. But we shall see!
There are so many things synonymous with Macy’s: shopping, Thanksgiving Day Parade, July 4th Fireworks, and now an office tower. It was recently reported that Macy's was looking to build an office tower on top of its iconic Herald Square flagship location.
You don’t have to be a retail industry analyst to know that physical retail stores have been closing and consolidating, faced with pressures from e-commerce, fast fashion brands, and Millennials looking for more experiences than shopping.
According to a Bloomberg story, "The company has floated plans for a 1.2 million-square-foot (111,500-square-meter) office tower that would be used by other tenants, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Macy’s probably would push for zoning changes around its property to allow for the 800-foot (244-meter) building, which would bring an estimated 6,000 additional people to the area, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The plans are exploratory and may change."
Reports have said that Macy’s has been in talks with New York City about the project. Two years ago the retailer wanted to add a roof deck to the Herald Square store as a way to increase foot traffic. Feedback on that idea is what led to the idea that building upwards might be a better idea. According to a Macy's real estate executive, people in the real estate industry told the Macy’s real estate team constantly, "We love this piece of real estate, how do we get a piece of it?"
A Macy's spokesperson said: “Based on these discussions, we believe the best way to unlock the store’s underlying real estate value and promote economic activity in the area is to build a commercial office tower while continuing to operate this iconic store as our national flagship. But we’re still early in this process and there are a number of hurdles we need to cross before we can share more concrete details,” the statement says.
One can’t imagine all that will have to happen in the area to absorb 6,000 additional people…might there even be some eminent domain news?
Photo: Affirmation Arts
There’s been lots of buzz around Hudson Yards, including plans for what is being known as New York City’s most expensive park project EVER. The park is slated to run from West 36th Street to West 39th Street and is estimated to cost $374 million. To make the magic happen, several properties will be facing site demolition, and possible commendation proceedings, including the Affirmation Arts gallery.
The space, run by William Hillman who is quite the philanthropist, is located on West 37th Street. According to its website, “Founded in 1986, the William Talbott Hillman Foundation is involved principally in supporting the visual and performing arts, as well as arts education in Pittsburgh and New York City. With its affiliate organization, the Affirmation Arts Fund, the Foundation has maintained a focus on raising the status of the artist within society and of art as a vocation.”
Reports have been circulating that Hillman is open to giving the building to the city for free with the condition that it remains a cultural center. “I would like to give this building to the people of New York City to share with the world,” Hillman said during a hearing Tuesday.
An interesting tidbit is that the park was originally being called the Hudson Park and Boulevard, but was recently renamed Bella Abzug in honor of the late U.S. Representative of New York.
Back to Mr. Hillman’s building which he has owned for the past 15 years - it’s potentially going to be part of the city’s plans to use eminent domain to build the three-acre addition of green space. In total, there are 10 properties on the city’s condemnation list, including the arts center.
Hillman’s attorneys say that the city could take over the building as early as this fall. Hillman says that he knows it will be difficult to stop the city but is working to remain optimistic. “If we’re not bold and hopeful, nothing will happen,” he told THE CITY (THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet). “We have to be hopeful and move forward as though we’ll be here.
The city responded with its legal representative Lincoln Patel, a lawyer for the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, saying that “The city will work with displaced businesses to help find them suitable places to relocate. This park has been planned for over a decade and will provide much needed public open space.”
We are eager to see what happens. Recently developer Tishman Speyer bought a two-story building on West 36th Street for $20 million. The building will be demolished and room will be made for the Bella Abzug Park. In exchange, Tishman Speyer will receive air rights from the city to build a tower bounded by Tenth and Eleventh Avenues.
We will keep you posted...