In an alternate universe, this transit complex exists already.
As MTA projects go, the Fulton St. dome ranks high on the futility scale. Originally set to open in 2007, the project is years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget. Most notable has been the utter lack of movement on the design for the hub entrance.
It’s been almost a year to the day since the MTA announced plans to scrap the dome at the Fulton St. Transit Center. Since then, a solid blue wall has ringed the future construction site as the economy has tanked and the MTA has delayed any announcement on the future of the project. Today, we hear news.
According to a report by NY1 transit reporter Bobby Cuza, the Fulton St. hub will resemble the originally proposed complex only with sky lights replacing the troubled dome. He reports:
When it’s complete, the Fulton Street Transit Center in lower Manhattan may look something like it’s original plans after all. After a number of fits and starts, MTA officials say they are pushing forward with a design very much like the original. “The envelope of the building will look exactly the same way as it was seen on the various renderings that were presented before,” said Michael Horodniceanu, President, MTA Capital Construction Co.
But not everything will be the same. While the glass façade will be retained, a planned glass dome may well be eliminated, replaced with a skylight allowing the sun to filter inside. And it’s there on the inside, where the biggest design changes will take place, as the MTA reconfigures the space to add more shops and restaurants.
“The design that we are looking at is to increase the amount of retail space, leasable retail space, on both the street level as well as the first floor above that,” Horodniceanu.
Now, that’s all well and good, but as Cuza points out, the reality on the ground differs from that painted by Horodniceanu. In terms of timing, Cuza notes that the building foundation won’t be completed for another 18 months, and the MTA has no timetable for construction of the hub. This project will, in all likelihood, end up a good seven or eight years behind schedule.
Money is also an issue as well. In July, the Feds under the Bush Administration denied federal funds for the $350 million cost overruns. Somehow, the MTA will have to find well over a quarter billion dollars in its tight capital budget for this project. Furthermore, while the city would have originally covered sidewalk repair as part of their effort to rehabilitate Fulton St., due to the massive delays, the MTA will now be shouldering those burdens as well. Yikes.
Because there is no alternative other than a walled-in and idle construction site, the city needs this Fulton St. hub. It’s part of the 9/11 recovery efforts, and it’s part of a Lower Manhattan revitalization project. When it will arrive though is anyone’s guess.