Nearly one year ago, I reported on Metro-North’s desire to build a station near Riverside Park on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The station, eyed for 60th St. as part of Extell’s Riverside South development, would have provided for access into both Grand Central and Penn Station and could have served business, such as CBS, along the Far West Side and Lincoln Center.
While Metro-North is still looking to develop a stop on the West Side, the location at 60th St. is off the table, according to a report in The Journal-News. While the agency still plans to open a stop at 125th St. and Riverside, the authority the MTA no longer has the option to open a station at West 60th St. because development is too far along at the Extell site. Instead, the authority will explore sites at 72nd or 57th Sts. as alternate possibilities.
Metro-North Vice President of Planning Robert MacLagger spoke with Ken Valenti of the suburban-focused Journal-News to discuss the railroad’s plans, but right now, those at Metro-North seem divided over the focus of the station. MacLagger imagined Manhattan residents using the stop to commute to their jobs in Westchester, but Metro-North spokesperson Marjorie Anders believed that more suburban commuters would take the trains to their city jobs or evenings out in Manhattan.
Meanwhile, MTA reps and Extell developers have engaged in a bit of a back-and-forth over the death of the 60th St. project. MacLagger noted that the buildings were, in the words of Valentin, “built too close to the tracks to allow for a station to be built there. ” Those planning Riverside South disagree:
The Riverside South Planning Corp. worked first with Trump and more recently with the project’s current owners, Extell Development Co., to insure that the project complements the area. Paul Elston, chairman of the Riverside South Planning Corp., faulted Metro-North for missing the chance to request that accommodation be made for the station as Extell built over exposed tracks. “If they had acted two years ago, it would have been a slam-dunk,” he said.
Anders said Metro-North had told Elston two years ago that a site he pushed for, between 59th and 61st streets, wouldn’t work because the tracks curved too sharply. The Trump Organization did not respond to repeated requests for comment. An Extell spokeswoman did not return calls.
Jeffrey Zupan, the RPA’s senior fellow for transportation, questioned whether there would be enough demand for trains at the station. He expressed doubt that there would be the market for suburban-bound commuters that Metro-North expects. “There’s just not a lot of job concentration,” around the suburban stations, he said.
So what’s going on here? In a way, it sounds similar to typical MTA delays and in-fighting that have marred many of their expansion efforts. Extell had to move ahead with its construction at Riverside South while the MTA couldn’t come to terms on either a purpose or location for a West Side Metro-North station. Either way, the agency says it will select a site by the summer and begin the planning process. Some day, we’ll have Metro-North access along Manhattan’s West Side whether we need it or not.