Competing Plan for Penn Station Redesign Introduced by ASTM

A personal growth agency with an alternate imaginative and prescient for the remaking of Manhattan’s Pennsylvania Station mentioned on Wednesday that its plan can be considerably cheaper than a rival proposal backed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The brand new plan by ASTM North America includes overhauling Penn Station, the busiest prepare hub in america, and wrapping Madison Sq. Backyard in a towering stone facade. Its unveiling occurred days after Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York signaled that the state was prepared to maneuver ahead with a renovation.

ASTM officers mentioned at a presentation on Tuesday that the agency’s plan was higher than the one backed by the M.T.A. as a result of it could be $1 billion cheaper and end in a extra unified prepare corridor.

The announcement was prone to stoke battle between ASTM and the M.T.A., whose chief, Janno Lieber, mentioned in April that the plan was wasteful, partly as a result of it concerned paying the house owners of Madison Sq. Backyard, which sits atop the station, a hefty charge to demolish a portion of the advanced.

Though Amtrak owns the constructing, the choice on which redesign plan to pursue was anticipated to be made collectively by the railroad and the states of New York and New Jersey, which management the M.T.A. and New Jersey Transit.

Civic leaders have been calling for a brand new Penn Station since not less than the Nineteen Nineties, when the previous Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan proposed changing the outdated James A. Farley Put up Workplace constructing throughout Eighth Avenue right into a prepare corridor. That concept turned a actuality below former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, nevertheless it has achieved little to alleviate the crowded and dreary situations at Penn Station itself. Efforts to renovate the prepare hub have been stymied by the presence of an enviornment on high of it, and for years officers have clamored for the Backyard to relocate, to little impact.

Though different plans to renovate Penn Station have been proposed after which discarded over time, unable to beat bureaucratic and political hurdles, a number of metropolis and state officers and leaders of influential nonprofits have signaled help for ASTM’s proposal. The majority of any renovation can be funded by state and federal tax {dollars}.

Responding to the M.T.A.’s criticism, Peter Cipriano, the senior vp of ASTM North America, mentioned at a presentation on Tuesday that his agency’s proposal can be inexpensive and that there was a transparent plan to pay for it.

“Theirs is $7-billion-plus, and the place the cash for that comes from is totally unclear,” he mentioned, referring to value estimates for the M.T.A. plan, which have been as excessive as $10 billion.

The ASTM proposal would contain shopping for and demolishing the Theater at MSG, a 160,000-square-foot venue on the west facet of the leisure advanced, to make method for 2 new, light-filled prepare halls: a grand entrance on Eighth Avenue with 55-foot ceilings and a 105-foot atrium in the midst of the block the place vehicles presently offload gear. The renovation would offer simpler entry to all 21 tracks, cut back congestion and permit for extra monitor capability in subsequent upgrades. Building might be accomplished in six years, the agency mentioned.

ASTM would put up $1 billion to kick-start the mission and depend on a mixture of state and federal funding to cowl the steadiness. The agency would then handle and function the station for 50 years, whereas the three rail companies that use the area — Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the M.T.A. — would pay a complete of about $250 million a yr for the privilege. Any building value overruns can be borne by the personal firm.

The associated fee to purchase the Theater at MSG can be below $500 million, Mr. Cipriano mentioned. Within the ASTM plan, Madison Sq. Backyard Leisure, which is run by the billionaire James Dolan, would additionally pay to renovate the distinctive drum of the Backyard.

The plan was revealed in March. The design staff, led by PAU and HOK, the architectural agency that codesigned La Guardia Airport’s lauded Terminal B, has since made a number of modifications.

Gone is the glassy field that may have surrounded MSG, changed with a up to date neoclassical podium of limestone or granite, with strains that mirror the Corinthian columns of the Beaux-Arts Farley Constructing throughout the road.

Demolishing the theater wouldn’t solely create area for a dramatic new entrance, but in addition unencumber room for an alternate truck loading plan that’s essential for the circulation of visitors, Vishaan Chakrabarti, the artistic director of PAU, mentioned.

“This could’t be dismissed as beauty,” he mentioned.

The M.T.A. plan would accomplish lots of the similar objectives, except for a brand new entrance at Eighth Avenue, which the company has referred to as unnecessarily expensive, as a result of the vast majority of passengers use the Seventh Avenue entrance. The M.T.A. has estimated that the entire value of developing the Eighth Avenue prepare corridor can be $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

The ASTM plan is inexpensive partly as a result of the design wouldn’t take away a vital structural bridge between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The elimination might add greater than $1 billion to building prices, Mr. Chakrabarti mentioned.

Jamie Torres-Springer, the president of M.T.A. building and growth, mentioned rebuilding the mid-block bridge was vital to the company’s plan.

ASTM additionally labored intently with engineering companies aware of the intricacies of the Backyard. Mr. Torres-Springer mentioned that the M.T.A. was not serious about paying for engineering particulars it already had.

“It’s very humorous — each proposal, massive and small, from ASTM includes paying MSG cash,” Mr. Torres-Springer mentioned.

A spokeswoman for MSG Leisure mentioned there had been no dialogue with the M.T.A. about charging the company for engineering providers.

On Monday, Ms. Hochul formally jettisoned a plan that had referred to as for constructing 10 skyscrapers close to the present Penn Station to assist finance a brand new prepare hub. She introduced the beginning of a preliminary design course of that’s anticipated to culminate within the state’s bidding out a contract for the mission’s completion.

The timing of her announcement didn’t appear coincidental: It occurred simply days earlier than ASTM was anticipated to unveil the monetary particulars of its personal plan.

The choice to maneuver ahead with out the tower part got here as no shock. The ten-tower plan, which Ms. Hochul inherited from Mr. Cuomo, concerned the event of thousands and thousands of sq. toes of workplace area at a time when the business market is foundering and borrowing prices are excessive. Vornado Realty Belief, the developer that was to construct these skyscrapers, paused its plans in February.

Ms. Hochul mentioned she was “open-minded about the entire doable eventualities,” which appeared to create a gap for ASTM. She made the announcement standing subsequent to Mark Levine, the Manhattan borough president, who has successfully endorsed the ASTM plan, and Anthony Coscia, the Amtrak chairman, whose railroad is open to the thought. A spokesman for Amtrak declined to remark for this story.

However the ASTM plan is roundly opposed by Mr. Lieber, the chief govt of the M.T.A., who has bristled on the notion {that a} personal firm would insert itself right into a course of he had been managing.

He and his staff have pointed to the station’s new Lengthy Island Rail Highway hall as proof that the M.T.A. is able to overseeing main tasks competently, and he has taken challenge with the notion of paying Madison Sq. Backyard Leisure to accumulate the Theater at MSG.

Madison Sq. Backyard Leisure has indicated openness to the ASTM plan. It has seemed to be much less open to the M.T.A.’s proposal.

Throughout a current listening to in regards to the Backyard’s bid to have its stadium working allow renewed in perpetuity, an MSG consultant dismissed the M.T.A.’s plan as “an idea piece” that “doesn’t work from an engineering perspective.”