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City Club: Fighting For New Yorkers

We represent New Yorkers on complex matters of urban planning which affect us all.  Our blog is here to help supporters from every background learn more about development in our city and the Club's advocacy. 


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Photo Credit: 60 Wall Street Entrance Detail" by MainlyTwelve

Community Board 1, Chair Tammy Meltzer

1 Centre Street, Room 2202 – North, New York, NY 10007

July 10, 2023

Dear Chair Meltzer, dear members of the board:

The Preservation Committee of the City Club of New York would like to comment on the application to the City Planning Commission for the complete destruction of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates’ design of the covered pedestrian space at 60 Wall Street. The City Club’s preservation committee is especially concerned with good government issues affecting the processes that protect our New York City landmarks. With this in mind we would like to comment on three points.

First, good government should include better coordination between key agencies. This is an important building and an important public space by an important architect. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has stated:

staff has determined that the building and interior POPS merit further study within the context of Postmodern commercial architecture and interiors. The Commission has begun to recognize Postmodern landmarks interiors . . . . .

(letter of September 12, 2022 to DoCoMoMO)

and we recommend that the City Planning Commission get together with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to review the issues, to agree on a schedule for public reviews allowing the Landmarks Preservation Commission to complete its review and calendar the building and this interior space. It is not good planning or good government for public agencies to operate in uncoordinated ways.

Our second good government point is that the city should recognize its own valuable inventions and celebrate them instead of ignoring their historical importance and allowing them to be trashed. This space is one of the greatest examples of a late 20th century urban experiment by the City Planning Commission: Covered Pedestrian Spaces were an invention that created through- block pedestrian spaces with seating, some retail, and greenery. They were open to the public and part of a new more pedestrian friendly city with a more cosmopolitan vision of urban street life. 60 Wall Street is highly significant as few other CPSs have such an ambitious design worthy of the City Planning Commission’s vision. Instead of allowing this potential landmark to be destroyed forever, the CPC should demand that it be treated delicately. Improvements can easily be accomplished by minor judicious alterations: wholesale destruction of this historic CPS for a corporate lobby is unnecessary.

Our third good government point concerns the environment. It is high time that New York City Agencies recognize their responsibility in solving the climate crisis and the City Planning Commission needs to make environmentally sound decisions. There is no environmental justification for the demolition of this original design to accommodate modest new functional requirements, the design can be adapted. What justification is there for the environmental consequences of all this demolition – the added pollution from dust, trucking and transportation, the waste of the embodied energy of perfectly good materials and systems and the unnecessary dumping in landfills? There is no justification.

In conclusion we urge that CB1 recommend better inter agency coordination and the establishment of a timetable delaying any decision by the CPC to allow the LPC to complete its review. We also recommend that the CPC review all the CPSs that were constructed in the late 20th century in order to evaluate their urban contributions and better manage potential alterations. Lastly, we urge CB1 to bring environmental issues at the forefront of all discussions.

Respectfully submitted,

Françoise Bollack,AIA, DESA, Chair, Preservation Committee, City Club of New York

cc.: Chair Carroll, LPC, Chair Garodnick, CPC, Councilmember Chris Marte

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 31, 2023 CONTACT Liam Blank, Chair, Transportation & Infrastructure Committee | 401-829-5991 New York, NY - Penn Station, one of the busiest rail hubs worldwide, is a vital part of New York City's regional transportation network. Its capacity constraints have been a critical issue for daily commuters since the 1920s, making the recent decision by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New Jersey Transit (NJT) all the more concerning. As reported by the New York Post, the MTA and NJT are set to ignore a more cost-effective “through-running” plan that could augment train capacity by 20-45% within just four years. Instead, they've selected a disruptive expansion project that offers riders no new destinations and could take more than twenty years to complete, all the while costing taxpayers substantially more. “Through-running” refers to the practice of allowing trains to pass through major stations without terminating. At Penn Station, this would involve commuter trains from New Jersey continuing onward to Long Island or vice versa, instead of ending their trips at Penn. Through-running improves efficiency by reducing the need for trains to sit idle as passengers transfer, and it maximizes station capacity. "The MTA and NJT's choice to reject through-running is an appalling dereliction of their duty to the public," said Liam Blank, Chair of The City Club's Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. "Their absurd justification that it fails to meet theoretical maximum capacity levels is mere pretense. The truth is that their preferred expansion plan also falls short of those goals. It is clear they prioritized maintaining fragmented fiefdoms over commuters’ need for an integrated, higher-capacity regional rail network." Andy Byford, former President of the New York City Transit Authority and former Commissioner of Transport for London, has publicly endorsed the concept, stating, “Through-running is a golden opportunity for the U.S. and for New York City to have something similar to [London’s] Elizabeth Line, to have something that has that economic regenerative impact in New York. [...] London has seen the benefit of [through-running] because you’ve got not only the economic benefits of the City, but the knock-on effect of north, south, east, and west of businesses popping up, of housing being developed, and of relief to the existing transport lines.” With an investment of $3 billion, the through-running proposal would restructure the existing infrastructure at Penn Station to allow more trains per hour. The improvements include practical changes such as widening platforms, enhancing coordination between railroads, and modernizing signal systems. This cost-efficient solution promises not only significant savings, but also a faster delivery of benefits to commuters, compared to the lengthy timeline of the proposed Penn Expansion. “It’s not just about building something that’s more aesthetically pleasing — important as though that is, Penn Station is kind of an embarrassment — but you can’t fix it by just putting in a few light boxes, by just heightening the ceilings, by just widening a few corridors,” said Byford. “If we’re going to do all of that, why not take the opportunity to fix the damn thing once and for all, which is, I’m going to say: get rid of the pillars, which means move [Madison Square Garden], but at the very least, do something with the track configuration to enable through-running.” The concept of through-running has garnered increasing support over the years, with key backers such as ReThinkNYC, the Institute of Rational Urban Mobility, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and TransitCenter. “This bait-and-switch maneuver by the railroads will subject commuters to decades more delays, overcrowding, and dysfunction at our region’s transit epicenter. It is simply unacceptable that the MTA and NJT would knowingly pass up a viable near-term fix in favor of a far-off fantasy, just to avoid working together,” said Blank. The City Club demands the MTA and NJT immediately implement through-running at Penn Station as a common-sense solution that can deliver huge benefits to riders in just a few years. We cannot allow political turf wars and agency silos to derail progress on vital transportation infrastructure. The public deserves better.

### The City Club of New York, established in 1892, is committed to promoting thoughtful urban land use policies that cater to all New Yorkers' needs. With a successful history of advocating for responsible planning and development, the City Club continues its mission to inspire progress and change in the city’s landscape.

Updated: Jun 13

Photo Credit: JC Decaux

June 12, 2023

Director Lisa M. Flores

Mayor’s Office of Contract Services

255 Greenwich St 9th floor

New York, NY 10007

Dear Lisa M. Flores,

The City Club of New York supports the Central Park Conservancy in opposing the installation of 11 bus shelters on Fifth Avenue along Central Park. The Central Park Conservancy has clearly stated in their written opposition many of the reasons that this proposed installation is inappropriate and unnecessary.

In addition to the aesthetic and physical reasons the installation is inappropriate, this attempt to gain approvals "under the radar" is procedurally inappropriate. The lack of advance notice regarding the proposal, and the inability of the public to testify in person make mockery of due process.

This is not the way New York City should work. We urge the Department of Contract Services to keep the record open until June 22 to provide a more proper opportunity to submit comments.


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