As the Tishman Speyer deal for the Hudson Yards collapsed completely on Tuesday, tempers have flared over the fate of development along the West Side. In one corner, we have Sen. Chuck Schumer fighting for Moynihan Station and office space in and around Penn Station. In the other corner, we have Mayor Mike Bloomberg, 18 months away from heading out of office and in search of a lasting New York City legacy.
The stakes in this political death match are high: They start with the 7 train extension and end with nothing short of a radical alteration of the Manhattan landscape west of Midtown. How it will end is anyone’s guess, but with Tishman Speyer out and the MTA back in negotiations with other potential Yards suitors, the battle has just begun.
The troubles started when talks between the MTA and Tishman Speyer collapsed late last week. While the Bloomberg administration put pressure on the two groups to keep trying this week and even promised to have the city cover the cost overruns for the 7 extension — but not necessarily that controversial station at 41st and 10th Ave. — things died for good today.
With this development, Schumer, long skeptical of the 7 line funding, took this opportunity to push for a project that he considers to be more viable than the Hudson Yards plans. Speaking on Monday at a Crain’s Business Forum, Schumer renewed his calls for Penn Station-focused development:
Mr. Schumer, in laying out his vision for the area at a Crain’s Breakfast Forum, said the mayor should stop funding a $500 million boulevard on the far West Side and instead build a second subway station on the extension of the No. 7 line. (Emphasis added.)
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s push for a 16-million-square-foot project at Hudson Yards, strongly encouraged by the city, suffered a setback last week when talks with its chosen developer, Tishman Speyer, broke down. Although Mr. Schumer said, “I am enthusiastic about Hudson Yards,” he said no one would build office space there until the No. 7 extension is in place.
Instead, he said, government should push for more office space by Penn Station, which has one-sixth as much as the Grand Central Terminal area despite serving more commuters.
Schumer and I are on the same page in regards to the 7 line extension, but Schumer and the Mayor disagree over the role of the Port Authority. The Senior Senator from New York would have the Port Authority assume control of this plan. Bloomberg, meanwhile, will have none of it because the Port Authority can’t even seem to get its act together in Lower Manhattan. It’s a grand ol’ political war of words.
On the MTA front, the agency will in all likelihood push hard to wrap up a deal with another suitor. They need the money for their capital budget, and Charles Bagli at City Room reported that Douglas Durst, Stephen Ross and Steven Roth, three other developers interested in the space, are now back on the table. While Durst would have once offered up just $39 million less than Tishman Speyer, that figure is sure to drop, leaving many to wonder why no one raised red flags with Tishman’s offer before it was accepted. The demands that eventually quashed the talks were not new.
Photo of Moynihan Station via Moynihan Station on flickr.