Archive for Fulton Street

Making the rounds today are some new old renderings from the Fulton St. Transit Center that came packaged as part of a presentation from the MTA to Community Board 1 last week. You can check out the renderings in my October post, here via DNA Info or in raw form in the presentation PDF right here. The renderings and construction photos are fun to view, but the real news is in the timeline.

According to the MTA documents, the end of the construction effort is finally in sight. After years of missed deadlines and rising budgets, the MTA says construction is still slated to wrap in June of 2014, just over 28 months from now. A detailed glimpse at the timeline, though, reveals that most work will be completed before the end of 2012.

As the chart on page 45 of the presentation shows, the MTA will complete the rehab of the 4/5 station and ready the new Dey St. entrance by the end of July. In November, the Dey Street concourse is set to open as well the escalator to John St. By the end of the year, the Corbin building restoration and first floor retail storefronts will be ready. In 2013, the MTA’s major work will involve opening the A/C mezzanine by the end of March, and after that, it’s just a spring until the headhouse is ready in mid-2014. Even as there’s light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, I still question whether or not this project was truly worth the billions.

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The Fulton Street Transit Center will feature retail and cafes at street level.

As progress continues on the Fulton Street Transit Center, the MTA is finally readying post-construction plans. The $1.4 billion project isn’t going to wrap until 2014, but the authority wants the pieces in place as this project has taken long enough. Earlier this week, the MTA unveiled a series of renderings of the inside of the transit center’s oculus, and their plans are coming into view.

Essentially, the MTA is going to make the Fulton Street Transit Center a downstair destination for shopping and dining. They want to recreate the aura of Grand Central in Lower Manhattan, but instead of managing the real estate themselves, they’re going to try a new approach. They will, as Andrew Grossman of The Wall Street Journal detailed, lease all of the space to one company who will then be in charge of doling out parcels for what an MTA document has termed “Lower Manhattan’s next great public space.” Grossman explains:

The move would put one firm in charge of filling 70,000 square feet of retail space in the three-story building. The MTA envisions big retailers taking space, along with a “grand bar” overlooking the Manhattan skyline and what it calls “destination” restaurants, similar to the Campbell Apartment in Grand Central.

Whichever firm leases the retail space would also be responsible for cleaning and maintaining it, said Michael Horodniceanu, the president of the MTA’s capital-construction division. That would allow the MTA to focus on maintaining underground space…

The MTA sees the site as a busy public space where people eat, drink and shop in addition to catching trains. It’s a goal similar to the one the Port Authority has for its transit hub under construction at the World Trade Center a few blocks away. That agency has inked a deal with mall operator Westfield Group to develop and manage retail throughout the site, including at the $3.4 billion transit hub designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.

The MTA is hoping to draw an anchor tenant for the third floor of the transit center. The renderings show a spot that looks suspiciously similar to an Apple Store.

In short, the agency has unveiled their planned uses to the floors of the transit center. Street level will include retail shops and markets or cafes. The second level will feature destination bars and restaurants, and the third level will play host to an anchor tenant. It could be an alluring spot for an Apple Store if the computer giant wants to open up in Lower Manhattan around the corner from J&R. Whatever company rents that spot though will find a space with views down through the oculus.

In addition to this commercial spaces, the MTA also plans to make the Fulton hub its first all-digital station. Instead of static signs pointing the way, the authority will install dynamic real-time signage that will be updated to reflect the status of current services. It is the culmination of the MTA’s efforts at bringing real-time information to the commuting masses.

And yet, despite the flashy renderings and ambitious plans, despite the rent dollars that will flow in, I still believe Fulton St. is something of a boondoggle with plenty of missed opportunities. It’s a project that was funded by the federal government who wanted to boost Lower Manhattan, but it’s one of three that will deliver more retail space to the area. It’s a $1.4 billion transit expense that doesn’t do a thing to improve train service and mobility in and out of the area. Finally, it’s centerpiece is a three-story building with a fancy roof in an area of high rises and valuable air rights.

Similar to the dollars being spent for the 7 line extension, the MTA didn’t have much flexibility with the $1.4 billion it received. Had they opted against a Fulton Street Transit Center, the feds would have sent the money elsewhere. Still, this project could have been better. If the MTA and its real estate management partner can deliver on tenants, it could still become a destination shopping area. It sure is shaping up to be an expensive one to build though.

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Sheldon Silver thanks the MTA for opening up the Cortlandt Street station before the anniversary of the September 11th attacks. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

Flanked by the usual array of politicians and authority officials, MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder cut the ribbon on the southbound platform of the R train stop at Cortlandt St. in Lower Manhattan this afternoon. By opening the station today, the MTA fulfilled a promise made to the Lower Manhattan community to restore service to the station prior to the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. As the southbound platform right now has no direct access to the street, straphangers must use the open par tof the Dey St. underpass to exit on the northern side, and the MTA will restore the southbound exit once construction aboveground is complete.

“We made a commitment to have this platform open before the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and today we are here to fulfill that commitment,” Walder said. “I’m so proud that the MTA is able to participate in another vital milestone in the revitalization of Lower Manhattan. Our employees were first responders on that tragic day; we worked tirelessly to bring the subway back just months after the attack and every day since we have been rebuilding and helping the city come back stronger than ever.”

For the past ten years, the Cortlandt Street BMT station has been amidst a construction zone. The station was badly damaged during the attacks, and station was shuttered until September 15, 2002. It remained opened until August 20, 2005 when work on the Dey Street Passageway forced its closure. Right now, the underpass linking the northbound and southbound platforms is open but bounded by a false wall. Once the Dey St. Passageway is fully complete, that wall will be removed.

The other Cortlandt St. station impacted by the September 11 attacks will remain closed for now. The 1 train hasn’t stopped at its Cortlandt St. in ten years, but due to ongoing Port Authority work at the World Trade Center site, that station will remain closed indefinitely.

Along the BMT, the northbound platform opened in November of 2009, and the MTA and Port Authority spent another $20 million to reopen the southbound platform. Included in the reopened station are a variety of murals by Margie Hughto entitled “Trade, Treasure and Travel.” The murals were added to the station in 1997 and were undamaged in the attacks. Many of them have been restored to Cortlandt St., and the remaining panels will appear in the Dey St. Passageway.

For more scenes from the opening, click through to view the slideshow. Read More→

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The MTA and local politicians celebrated the opening of a new entrance at William Street yesterday. (Photo courtesy of New York City Transit)

As the MTA’s general capital future remains unknown, its funded projects are moving forward at a brisk pace. Yesterday morning, MTA officials and New York politicians gathered in Lower Manhattan to celebrate the opening of a new entrance at Williams St. that leads into the Fulton St. complex. Overall, the Transit Center is now more than 50 percent complete and on target for its 2014 opening.

“We have reached yet another significant milestone as we move forward to complete what will become a landmark transportation facility,” MTA Chairman and CEO Jay Walder said. “Once complete, this complex will provide our customers with a more seamless experience at this major downtown hub. The Transit Center will improve travel for hundreds of thousands of daily commuters and Lower Manhattan residents and visitors while providing a modern and convenient retail location.”

The new entrance — located at 135 William St. — provides immediate access to the 7th Ave. IRT platform and the former Nassau St. stop on the IND. Next year, the MTA will open entrances at 150 William St. and 129 Fulton St. that will allow for similar improvements.

As part of this entrance, the MTA included a restored mural — seen below — and a gate from the McAlpin hotel. These items had previously been installed on the A/C/ station but were removed in 2009. The mural is one of six being refurbished for the Fulton St. Transit Center. It certainly looks nice. Whether it’s worth the federal expenditure remains in doubt.

Click through for a view of the Marine Grill mural. Read More→

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The saga of poor Cortlandt St. on the BMT Broadway line is a decade-long one. Seriously damaged by the collapse of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, the station remained closed for a year before opening again in 2002. For three years, the station remained open as work at the WTC site stalled out. When the MTA began to prep for the Fulton St. project, the station closed in August 2005, and it has remained a work in progress since then.

With the tenth anniversary of those terrorist attacks just two months away, the MTA has vowed to reopen the two Cortlandt St. stations, and work on the R line is coming down to the wire. Christine Haughney examines the station in a Times piece today, and while workers are patching up the walls, the station may not be entirely ready by early September. “There are two pieces to the puzzle. Some of it is cosmetic and some of it’s structural,” Michael Horodniceanu, head of MTA Capital Construction, said. “This part of the work is much more time consuming because finishes always take longer.”

The station, Horodniceanu said, will be open to the public on the tenth anniversary of the attacks, but it won’t be finished. The Dey Street connector will not be ready until 2014, and escalator repair and elevator installation won’t happen until after the grand re-opening. Still, it will good for Lower Manhattan that passenger service on the southbound platform will be restored to Cortlandt St. Ever so slowly, the pieces are being reassembled.

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A view of the Fulton Street Transit Hub from 19 stories up. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy)

Before the long weekend, SAS reader Jeremy sent me the above picture via his Twitter account. It is, as the caption says, a view into the Fulton Street Transit Center from 19 stories above, and it reminds me of the numerous photos of sports stadium construction that dot the Internet. Clearly, work has a long way to go, but the future $1.4 billion hub is quickly taking shape.

In its most recent update, the MTA still says the transit center will wrap in mid-2014, and the budget is still set for $1.4 billion. Even as the MTA struggles to keep the East Side Access project on schedule, it’s hard to believe it could miss the Fulton St. revenue date. After all, this is a project that was supposed to be completed years ago for $700 million, and it’s now talking twice as long and twice as much money to realize a glorified subway station amidst the streets of Lower Manhattan.

Every time, then, that I see images of this structure, I’m both impressed and disappointed. The Fulton St. hub will certainly be a pleasing addition to the downtown landscape, and the station rehabilitation at that location is a badly needed one. Yet, it’s a money sink. At a time when the MTA has to fight for dollars from Albany for capital projects that keep the trains moving, the feds are lavishing over a billion dollars on a glorified subway stop. This isn’t some regional hub that connects passengers entering and leaving New York; it’s a subway stop.

So what would I do with $1.4 billion? Adding a PA/CIS system along the B Division lines would greatly improve the rider experience. Pushing the CBTC program with more funding would allow for more trains at peak hours. Think about what $1.4 billion could do for the next phase of the Second Ave. Subway or how many basic station rehabs it could fund. The possibilities are endless.

Ultimately, the Fulton Street expenditure is a problem I’ve often highlighted. Politicians like to spend money on things that are living examples to their generosity. A Senator can’t point to a specific piece of equipment with pride when he or she starts to cull votes, but that same representative can discuss his or her efforts at securing federal dollars for a gleaming new downtown transit hub. The problem is that New Yorkers need more of those behind-the-scenes improvements that make the subways more pleasant or easier to ride. We don’t need a $1.4 billion subway stop at Fulton St.

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Photo by Patrick Cashin/MTA

Where:Inside the construction of the Fulton St. Transit Hub
When: June 8, 2011

The MTA recently sent staff photographer Patrick Cashin inside the Fulton St. Transit Center to snap a series of photos of the hub in progress. The results are now up on Flickr, and we see, after years of stops and stops, that the project is moving ahead quickly. Relocated murals are in place; walkways have been built; and currently shuttered platforms are undergoing renovations.

The authority still maintains the Transit Center will be fully operational by the end of 2014, and various segments are opening up as work finishes up. By the time of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in a few months, the southbound Cortlandt St. station along the R should finally reopen, and Lower Manhattan’s transit center, albeit it with a very steep price tag, will untangle one of the more confusing subway stations around.

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Whenever the MTA starts digging out subway infrastructure around Lower Manhattan, they seem to unearth history as well. Contractors wound up excavating a 350-year-old wall during construction of the new South Ferry terminal, and as work at the Fulton St. Transit Hub has continued, New York history has emerged in the process.

Near the corner of Fulton St. and Pearl St. on what was once primo riverfront property on the East River, crews recently unearthed a well on land owned in the late 1600s by Stephanus van Cortlandt. Andy Newman of The Times has more on this historic find. The wall, he said, was five feet wide and around four feet deep. The water wasn’t potable though, and archaeologists believe it was for “early-industrial use.” Alyssa Loorya said, “Any work or jobs you would do around the property. Washing, cooling. Anything that we could use gray water for, they could have used gray water.”

Within the well, excavators uncovered a ceramic bird from the early 18th century as well as a variety of other fragments from the era. City officials hope to put these on display in the lobby of the Department of Design and Construction in Queens. Meanwhile, city historians are intrigued by the historic well. “Everything you find,” Loorya said, “adds to the knowledge of material culture and lifeways of colonial New York.”

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At Fulton Street, a Transit Center rises. (Photo via MTA)

Few projects symbolize the frustration of major public works in New York City quite like the Fulton Street Transit Center. Planned as a post-9/11 revitalization project for Lower Manhattan, the Transit Center was originally supposed to be completed by 2007, but when federal funds dried up in the mid-2000s, the project languished. It will be finished in 2014 and at a cost of $1.4 billion, nearly twice as much as originally projected.

Yesterday, the MTA again reiterated that the project is on time and on budget. Things are actually happening at Fulton Street. The press release has the details:

The Fulton Street Transit Center is more than 50 percent complete and is on track for its scheduled overall June 2014 completion, with the MTA opening up various parts of the complex for public use before then. MTA Capital Construction continues to reach new milestones, most recently installing the first superstructure steel for the Transit Center Building on March 9, 2011.

A 100-foot tall tower crane has been installed on Broadway and steel erection will continue over the next several months, finishing by the end of 2011. One train car length away, restoration of the historic Corbin Building is continuing on both the interior and exterior façade, with the north wall of the building fully restored to allow for the adjacent Transit Center Building to commence steel work. Restoration of the Corbin Building, an 1888 landmark, is expected to be complete by the end of 2012.

The reconfiguration and rehabilitation of the Fulton Street A/C Station is one of the most complicated aspects of the entire complex and continues to progress well. All structural work has been completed on the A/C Mezzanine East and final finishes, including glass tiles and a LED wayfinding band, which are being installed on the corridor walls. Work also continues to progress on the new entrance at 135 William Street which is scheduled to open in July. An additional entrance at 150 Willam Street will be open by the end of 2011 and in 2012 a new elevator will be installed in the station at 129 Fulton Street.

I’m quite curious to see how the LED wayfinding band operates. At some point, it will be operational, and it could serve as a harbinger for technology to come. A few maze-like stations throughout New York could use similar features.

Ultimately, the current progress at Fulton Street is a testament to an MTA without unsettled leadership atop Capital Construction and a steady flow of funds for the project. With money and direction, construction projects in New York can actually move forward albeit at a rather slow pace.

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In around 90 minutes, the Jay St.-MetroTech station that serves the A, C, F and R trains will open to the public, but it’s not the only new station name in the system. Also coming to us via Jeffrey from Twitter is this photo taken on the lower level of the Fulton St. complex. That tunnel, which serves as the final stop in Manhattan for the A and C, had long been called Broadway/Nassau St., leading to countless confused tourists (and more than a few lost locals).

Now, as part of the overall redesign at Fulton St., Broadway/Nassau is no more. The A and the C stop at Fulton St., and the system in Lower Manhattan is that much easier to navigate. As the sign says, “One Name, Many Connections.”

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