MCNY Panel Calls for West Side Development Oversight, Funding Transparency

At a panel discussion at the Museum of the City of New York last night, planners and community advocates criticized the lack of coordination going into the planning for the West Side.

The sheer mass of public and private development planned for the West Side (between 14th and 42nd Street, West of 8th Avenue) is staggering.  

Besides the Rail Yards themselves, current planning initiatives include:

Community Board 4’s Anna Hayes Levin and former MTA chair Richard Ravitch both called attention to the lack of an overarching body to oversee the planning and financial aspects of this development. Ravitch called the West Side “planning run amok.” He pointed to Moynihan Station as the key to smart planning, saying,”Until Moynihan Station is resolved, there will be a serious impediment to development on the whole West Side.” Expansion of the station would promote natural growth of Midtown by adjacency, he explained, rather than starting with large commercial developments on 10th and 11th Avenues. He encouraged the MTA to hold off plans for the Rail Yards until Moynihan Station was settled.

All panelists called for financials of each project to be made public. University of Pennsylvania Planning Professor Lynn Sagalyn  noted that press coverage of West Side development has not pushed the City, State or MTA to reveal how much these projects will cost or who would pay for them.

Likely, full buildout on West Side development will happen over the course of the next three decades or so. Chances are high that these projects will shift, scale back, or possibly fall through completely. This development burst is in its infancy, so it’s crucial that the public stay informed and demand accountability in both the planning and funding of these major projects.

 A video of last night’s dicussion will be up next week.

Weekly News Roundup, December 11-18

  • Related Companies announces a $1.4 Billion investment by firms including Goldman Sachs and MSD Capital. While the firm’s release remarks that this news does not impact any of their current plans, including their West Side Rail Yards redevelopment proposal, the timing of their announcement is certainly convenient. The Times reports on this here.
  • Gothamist also picked up on the Crain’s story from yesterday, emphasizing the irony that the two developments that seem to have gotten the most public support so far in the review process (Brookfield and Extell) appear to be on the early chopping block due to their lack of anchor tenants.
  • New York’s Daily Intelligencer created a rather nifty grid detailing the various projects that outgoing economic-development mayor Dan Doctoroff is leaving in the lurch, including the extension of the No. 7 line to 11th Avenue and 33rd Street (described by many as a project that “must happen” in order for West Side Rail Yards redevelopment to proceed). They deem the prognosis good.
  • Another nearby project that will help create the vaunted West Side of the future is the long-discussed, little-developed Moynihan Station project, which seems to be picking up some steam with the Empire State Development Corporation’s adoption of a Related/Vornado partnership to implement the plan. Chelsea Now reports on a recent scoping hearing on this project here.