Setting the stage for a quick revival of plans to build the Moynihan Station transit hub near Penn Station, the Pataki administration is moving to extend the state's option to buy the Farley Post Office building from the federal government for $230 million. The option expires at the end of the year.
The landmarked Farley Post Office building, with its monumental Corinthian colonnade, covers two city blocks just west of Penn Station. Reconfiguring the building was at the heart of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's vision for a new grand gateway to New York City.
After nearly a decade of planning, Governor Pataki's $900 million Moynihan Station project, which would have transformed the eastern half of the Farley building into a transit hub to relieve congestion at Penn Station, was effectively killed in October by the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver.
To keep the vision alive, the state has tried to finalize the purchase of the Farley building from U.S. Postal Service before the end of the year, but could not come up with the money or solve unanswered legal questions about the transfer. Losing the option to buy the Farley building threatened to derail a future Moynihan Station and more ambitious plans by the state's designated developers, Vornado Realty Trust and the Related Companies, to rebuild Madison Square Garden at the west side of the Farley building, conduct a major renovation of the existing Penn Station, and develop millions of square feet of office space on the current arena site. Their project is said to require about $1 billion in public subsidies.
The state's leading development official, Charles Gargano, said yesterday the developers' grand plans are "six to eight times the order of magnitude" of the state's Moynihan Station project. He said offering the entire project to Vornado and Related without a public request for proposals amounted to "sole-source bidding."
"We feel clearly that a new RFP would be required," Mr. Gargano said.
Governor-elect Spitzer's appointee to replace Mr. Gargano as chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, Patrick Foye, a lawyer, is a Long Island resident who commutes through Penn Station. In a telephone interview early yesterday, Mr. Foye said new administration is committed to the redevelopment of the Penn Station area, including plans for "Moynihan East and West," a reference to redeveloping the Farley building and renovating the existing Penn Station on the east side of Eighth Avenue.
Mr. Foye said the transition team recently convened a meeting with the transportation agencies that would participate in a Penn Station renovation, including the MTA, Amtrak, and New Jersey Transit.
"We are very focused on economic development in the area but also on the enhancement of transportation infrastructure at Penn station," Mr. Foye said. "The goal of the transportation task force is to speak as one voice."
Yesterday's press appearance was a swan song for Mr. Gargano, 72, who ran the state's development agency for 12 years, overseeing projects such as the expansion of the Javits Convention Center, public investments in Harlem, 42nd Street redevelopment, residential development known as Queens West, and the Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn. In his spare time, he landed cameo roles in Hollywood movies, most recently in Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center."
A longtime Republican Party fundraiser from Brooklyn who was a Reagan-era ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. Gargano said he plans to serve out his term as vice chairman of the Port Authority. If Mr. Pataki decides to run for president, Mr. Gargano said he would work for the campaign.