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Madison Square Garden and Penn Station In Need of a Divorce

The owners of Madison Square Garden are asking NYC "to renew — in perpetuity — the special permit that allows them to operate an arena atop Penn Station, the country’s busiest transit hub." Michael Kimmelman urges the city to deny their request.
February 14, 2013, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Madison Square Garden, Kimmelman has argued before, is one of the main obstacles to renovating Penn Station in a manner befitting the busiest train station in the United States. Rather than approving the arena's special permit in perpetuity, he suggests that, "[t]he [City] Council could grant a 10-year permit, enough time so that the Garden and the various parties responsible for the station can come up with an appropriately aggressive plan to improve the site, a plan that should include discussions about a possible future home, elsewhere, for the arena."

"Penn Station was designed half a century ago when some 200,000 riders a day used it, but now 650,000 do, and that number is growing. With the Garden on top of it, relief is not likely. The City Planning Commission, which recommended the demolition in 1963 of the old Penn Station, now has, for the first time since then, a chance to atone by giving the permit a time limit. The permit that has just expired was for 50 years."

Although the Garden's owners are investing a billion dollars into upgrading the arena, Kimmelman thinks that after a decade of wear and tear they'll be ready to "build what the Garden should be, the newest and best sports and entertainment facility in the city: an architectural landmark as opposed to an eyesore, lately made to look even worse by the arrival of the spanking new and striking Barclays Center in Brooklyn."

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Published on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 in The New York Times
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