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New Penn Station megadevelopment announced; where will Madison Square Garden fit in?

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A megadevelopment roughly the size of Rockefeller Center would transform Penn Station and the surrounding area–but left unaddressed is the future of Madison Square Garden.

New York City officials have made several runs at a renovated Penn Station over the past several years. The new Penn Station, which opened in 1963 and replaced the original, venerable Penn Station originally designed by McKim, Mead and White, has never been a beloved train station; New Yorkers tolerate it but they certainly don’t love it. Even New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has deemed it a “hellhole.”

So news that Hochul and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority were working with developers on a new plan for the area that would include a new terminal for the various lines serviced by the station, there must have been plenty of rejoicing among the locals. The new plan, per The New York Times, certainly meets Daniel Burnham’s advice about big plans:

The plan calls for constructing 10 towers around the facility and providing an estimated $1.2 billion in tax breaks to developers….

The redevelopment would be among the largest real estate projects in United States history: roughly 18 million square feet of mostly office space, up to 1,800 residential units, retail space and a hotel. At the center would be a renovated Penn Station, which sits below Madison Square Garden and served 650,000 riders each weekday before the pandemic. The upgraded station would cost $7 billion, the state has said.

Left unsaid: the fate of Madison Square Garden, which sits above the current Penn Station and the transit lines. MSG owns the Garden site and holds an operating permit that expires in 2023. A location near the Garden could be considered an amenity for the firms seeking to lease so much office space residences, however. There have been plans for a fourth Madison Square Garden elsewhere in the city, however, but the economics may be daunting, and there are no indications the arena will be rebuilt elsewhere.

UPDATE: The plan was approved today by the Empire State Development economic development agency. No word on the impact on MSG, though renderings distributed by real-estate developer Vornado show MSG nestled at the base of skyscrapers.

Correction: This article was updated to reflect the fact that MSG owns the land underneath the Garden.

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