(The Center Square) – New York Gov. Kathy Hochul unveiled her vision for a Penn Station on Wednesday, pledging to overhaul what she called a depressing depot and make vast improvements to the areas surrounding the rail hub.
Hochul’s plan cuts a lot out of the grandiose plans ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, her predecessor, proposed. Still, the scaled-down project could cost upwards of $7 billion and take five years to complete.
But she said it’s a project that’s necessary to the hundreds of thousands of people who regularly pass through the outdated Midtown Manhattan station. The majority of those riders use New York’s subway system and the Long Island Railroad.
“Everybody looks down when they’re in Penn Station,” she said. “I want them to look upwards. I want them to experience light. I want them to experience an uplifting feeling that they’re not getting right now.”
The new hub will double circulation space from 123,000 to 250,000. It will also feature a 450-foot sunlit hall bigger than both Moynihan and Grand Central stations combined. Additional escalators, elevators, entrances and expanded underground tunnels to subway stations are included to simplify the navigation process throughout the facility.
“Penn Station is the busiest transportation facility in the city, with six subway lines, countless bus routes, and soon four railroads, and we’ve been waiting generations for Penn Station to be upgraded,” said Janno Lieber, the acting chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Development space has been trimmed by nearly 1.5 million square feet in the area surrounding the new station. More public space is included in the design, including a 30,000-square-foot area comparable to Rockefeller Plaza.
It also calls for creating up to 1,800 residential units, and nearly a third of which will be affordable housing opportunities.
The revised Penn Station plan comes after more than 100 meetings with residents, government officials and elected leaders to rework the $16 billion plan Cuomo had proposed.
More meetings and reviews are planned.
One other thing that will likely be changed is the name. Hochul drew some laughs during the press conference when she asked if anyone has ever wondered why the station – the largest transit hub in the Western Hemisphere – is named after a neighboring state.
The 111-year-old facility is named after the Pennsylvania Railroad Co., which built it.
“I believe the new station for New York should be named for a New Yorker or something to do with how iconic New York state is and how amazing it is,” the governor said. “So, we’ll be focusing on this, too.”