Construction starts on $1.6 billion Monyihan Train Hall

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Construction has started to convert the former James A. Farley Post Office building, across from Penn Station, into the new $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Aug. 17.

The developer-builder team of the Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska USA is working on the project, which is expected to create more than 2,000 construction jobs. The private developers have contributed $630 million towards the project’s construction and will have a 99-year lease on the Farley Building, The New York Times has reported. The rest of the funds are being contributed by the State, Amtrak, the MTA, and the Port Authority.

Skidomre, Owings & Merrill LLP has designed the project.

When work is completed in 2020, there will be a new 255,000-sq. ft. train hall for Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak passengers and increased total concourse floor space in the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex by more than 50 percent. The Farley Building will also house 700,000 sq. ft. of new commercial, retail and dining space within the mixed-use facility, creating a civic space for Manhattan’s West Side.

“For decades, passengers were promised a world-class train hall worthy of New York – today, we are delivering on that promise and turning that dream into a reality,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We are transforming the Farley Post Office into a state-of-the-art transit hub to get travelers where they need to go faster and more comfortably. With better access to trains and subways, vibrant retail and business opportunities and stunning architectural design, we are bringing Penn Station into the 21st century.”

Renderings of the Moynihan Train Hall. See additional images by clicking on the image above. (SOM)

Before full-scale construction could begin, workers finished demolishing the former sorting room floor slab. This accomplishment occurred  five months ahead of schedule since this part of the work started in Sept. 2016.

To date, Skanska has removed more than one acre of concrete and steel flooring to increase the vertical space underneath Moynihan Train Hall’s future skylight. This process entailed the demolition of 6,000 tons of concrete and the removal of approximately 800 tons of steel, as well as an additional 400 tons of hazardous materials. Skanska has also made significant progress in the interior demolition of all five floors of the Farley Building.

The Farley Building was designed by McKim, Mead and White as a sister to their masterpiece – the original Pennsylvania Station. The Farley Building’s train hall will bear the name of one of its great champions – the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

There will be a new, spectacular 92-foot high skylight that will rest upon the building’s historic and architecturally-dramatic steel trusses. All LIRR and Amtrak trains will be served by the nine platforms and 17 tracks that will be accessible from the Train Hall, serviced by eleven escalators and seven elevators. The train hall will provide a direct connection to the Eighth Ave. subway and create direct access to the train station from 9th Ave. for the first time.

In addition to the demolition and removal of existing materials, work has begun on many new features of the Penn-Farley Complex, including:

  • Restoration of the exterior façade on 31st St. and the interior courtyards;
  • creation of new openings to accommodate escalators carrying passengers to platform level;
  • shielding three of six underground train platforms for demolition and construction operations; and
  • installation of 100 tons of new steel.

The Monynihan Train Hall is part of the $2.5 billion transformation of the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex announced by Cuomo in January 2016 to dramatically modernize, upgrade and redesign America’s busiest transit hub into a world-class facility for the 21st century. The complex also includes a comprehensive redesign of the LIRR’s existing 33rd Street concourse at Penn Station and an extensive renovation to the adjacent Seventh and Eighth Ave. subway stations. The plan will include nearly tripling the width of the 33rd St. Corridor, which is among the busiest sections of Penn Station and stretches along the station’s lower level from Seventh to Eighth Ave. Other improvements include upgraded lighting and wayfinding and digital screens to convey information and create a modern passenger experience.

“With better access to trains and subways, vibrant retail and business opportunities and stunning architectural design, we are bringing Penn Station into the 21st century,” Cuomo said.

In January 2016, Empire State Development, the MTA, LIRR and Amtrak issued an RFP soliciting proposals for the comprehensive redevelopment of the century-old, landmarked Farley Building, including a train hall and the surrounding office and retail space. RFP responses were received in April 2016 and reviewed by a panel of private and public experts from the real estate, construction, design and finance fields.

In September 2016, Cuomo announced the selection of the developer-builder team. Empire State Development and the joint-venture reached financial close on the transaction in June 2017.

The news release included statements from the developer particpants:

David Greenbaum, president of the New York division of Vornado Realty Trust said in a statement: “We congratulate Governor Cuomo and his team, as well as the railroads, for making today’s groundbreaking possible. The transformation of the historic Farley Building into the majestic Moynihan Train Hall will demonstrate, like its predecessor Grand Central, the power of a grand public space. The project will also include large floorplate office space, effectively a horizontal campus, attractive to today’s creative class tenants. The redevelopment will also include a distinctive retail destination that will serve the thousands and thousands of residents, workers, visitors, and commuters who will pass through the building every day. The restored historic building will become a must-see attraction for any visit to New York.”

Michael Viggiano, executive vice-president of Skanska USA said: “Skanska USA is excited to once again partner with the Governor and commends his leadership in making this critical project for the west side of Manhattan a reality. As with the recently completed Second Avenue Subway and new Kosciuszko Bridge, Skanska is proud to help drive the Governor’s vision of transforming the city for a new generation of New Yorkers. Whether you travel on the LIRR, Amtrak, or the subway, the reimagined Farley Building is going to change the lives of countless travelers every day.”

Jeff Blau, CEO of Related Companies said: “We are thrilled to continue the momentum on what is sure to be a historic project for New York City. The west side of Manhattan is being transformed and we are proud to work with Gov. Cuomo, the State of New York, Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak to bring beautiful new rail infrastructure to the community, as well as much needed office and retail space. Not only are we creating a great amenity for the daily LIRR and Amtrak riders who pass through these buildings each day, but we are also creating a new destination for the city.”