Madison Square Garden is a ugly building and it also sits on top of Penn Station, the nation’s busiest train station. MSG and the related was born out of the financial problems of the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1960s. The company was bleeding money and decided that it could make more by tearing down its station and building a arena and office complex. The original Penn Station was considered epic, and modeled after Roman and ancient Greek architecture. The razing of the station galvanized the city to protect its historical buildings with landmark status. The only way to describe the current Penn Station is like going into the depths of hell.
The other day I was reading this article from Crain’s New York Business about how nonprofits, transit advocates, and politicians want to use the City Planning Commission’s renewal of the MSG’s special permit as a way to force the arena to move and expand the station underneath. The idea is approve the permit for 10 years and have the arena move and when it is gone expand the station. Even though I do believe the current station is a dump. I find this whole idea to be nonsense. First, there is no way the busiest sports arena in the country is not going to get its permit renewed. There’s too much money involved for that to happen. Second, let’s say that the CPC only approves the permit for just 10 years and stipulates that the Garden has to move. MSG would have perfect grounds to sue because such a action would be a taking by the state of private property without just compensation. It would be illegal.
The original Penn Station is never coming back. Something does have to be done to increase capacity. Converting the Farley Post Office into Moynihan Station is an idea, but I think that one is more about aesthetics. That’s why you need some good urban planners and a boat load of money to figure this one out.