For a long time, I was skeptical of the 7 line extension to the Hudson Yards area. With nothing in the area around the new terminal, New York City was spending $2.3 billion of scarce transportation money on a subway to nowhere that would largely benefit real estate interests without improving transit mobility throughout the city. The project still suffers from some of these problems, but as The Times details today, it’s clear that the Far West Side is booming and will continue to do so for years. Manhattan’s last frontier is having its coming-out party.
Charles Bagli’s concept for his Times piece is an intuitive one: Mayor Bloomberg’s plans for Far West Side were designed to showcase the 2012 Olympics, but by losing out on those Summer Games, the West Side has benefited from mixed-use development far more than it otherwise would have. New York anticipates constructing more office space in Hudson Yards than in some small cities, and a variety of residential buildings have opened from 42nd St. down to 29th St. A few thousand new residential units will anchor the commercial areas, and the 7 line will bring everyone there.
There is, of course, one grand omission from both Bagli’s article and the city’s West Side plans, and that is a subway stop at 41st and 10th Ave. Originally part of the 7 line extension, the station was axed amidst concerns of rising costs. The project likely would have carried a $3 billion price tag otherwise, and only the barest of provisioning for a future station has been put into place.
By omitting a station in an area surrounded by both new and old developments, the city clearly decided to pursue uncharted opportunities above Hudson Yards, and that’s a serious omission in the tale of West Side Renaissance. It’s a short-sighted one that will cost New York and its residents more money in the future. While the Far West Side development deserves praise, we should not forget the mistakes of planning as well.