Five Proposals to Redevelop MTA Rail Yards

MTA Picks Worse Plan

MTA rail yards

MTA rail yards in Midtown West

By Carter B. Horsley

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority opened a small exhibition in mid-November 2007 in a storefront at the northwest corner of 43rd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue of the five submissions it has received for the redevelopment of its West Side rail yards in Manhattan. The exhibition was to run through December 3, 2007, but was extended to December 14.

The exhibition has plans from Brookfield Properties, Extell Development, a joint venture of Vornado Real Estate Trust and the Durst Organization, a joint venture of the Related Companies and Goldman Sachs, and a joint venture of Tishman Speyer and Morgan Stanley.

The plans for the redevelopment of the 26-acre site south of the Javits Convention Center facing the Hudson River varied greatly in detail and presentation and it was clear that many details of some of the proposals had not yet been worked out. Some more details became available at a major public meeting at Cooper Union sponsored by many of the city's leading civic organizations and still more at a subsequent meeting organized by Community Board 4. Both meetings were standing room only and many of the new details were not easily discernible as some appeared for a few seconds in video presentations without comment, or were on large presentation boards blocked by standees and removed instantly at the meeting's end.

You would almost think that the public agency and the developers did not want too much scrutiny. When questioned after the meeting, one Community Board 4 member said that the MTA agreed to the presentations before the board only on the grounds that no financial details of the plans would be discussed or disclosed. Speakers from the community at the meeting emphasized that their primary interests were the creation of affordable housing and job generation for the community. One member of the community board declared that all the plans were too big: "It's Hong Kong on the Hudson."

Anna Hayes Levin of Community Board 4

Anna Hayes Levin, right, at Community Board 4 meeting on rail yards plans

Anna Hayes Levin, a member of the board, told the meeting that the MTA intends to base its decision of which plan will be chosen on how much revenue it will generate for the authority, how little disruption it will cause to its operation, the quality of the architecture and design, and sustainability.

The lead editorial in The New York Sun November 20, 2007 on the proposals submitted to the MTA noted that "The only things missing were price tags, which is a strange way to run an auction for a publicly owned site.

The MTA's board will make a decision early next year and that decision will be based not only on the specific plan, but its "doability," and financing and the MTA released no details of what financing plan accompanied each submission. The proposals are now being reviewed by a selection committee with a majority of its members appointed by MTA and with two representatives from Hudson Yards Development Corp. The recommended proposal(s) for each yard will then go to the MTA board for consideration in the first quarter of 2008.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority's requests for proposals for the redevelopment of the air space over two large rail yards on the West Side between 30th and 33rd Streets were released by Governor Eliot Spitzer, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and MTA executive director and CEO Elliot G. Sander.

"After years of dialogue, today's announcement is a tremendous step towards making the Far West Side the next frontier in the city's development," declared Governor Spitzer.

"The Hudson Yards area offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform a vast underutilized site into a vibrant community with new office space, housing, cultural space and parks, and today's announcement marks a key milestone in finally fulfilling the area's potential," declared Mayor Bloomberg, adding that "the development of the Far West Side will help us achieve our long-term goal of creating capacity for jobs and affordable housing in all five boroughs."

"As this project moves forward, we will see a new, world-class urban development come to life, one that will be a vibrant mix of uses and has design controls to fully integrate it with the surrounding area," declared Speaker Quinn.

The two yards are each 13 acres in size and straddle 11th Avenue. They could be developed with about 12 million square feet of residential and commercial space and the RFPs call for the creation of about 5 acres of open space on the western yards and about 7 acres on the eastern yards.

The eastern yards is the southern base of a new angled boulevard that would extend north to 42nd Street and which was rezoned in 2005 to permit extremely high density development.

The rail yards had been proposed by the Bloomberg Administration as a site of an Olympic and football stadium, but that plan was subsequently abandoned.

The state and the city have been planning an expansion of the Javits Convention Center that has no windows facing the Hudson River and is too small to attract the nation's largest conventions that are major revenue sources for their cities. The city had argued that the football stadium could have been a major expansion/addition to the convention center, but since most major convention centers are one-floor facilities it was not clear how the stadium would have been used for convention purposes.

In any event, costs for the modest expansion planned for the convention center escalated sharply and the new plans would have virtually obliterated the integrity of its design by I. M. Pei that was widely heralded at the time although no preservationists came forward to protest the state's new plans even though the Pei design was one of the most modern of its era. Some press reports put the cost of the modest expansion at $5 billion, an absurd figure that was not challenged in the press or by civic activists but high enough for the state to rethink its plans and finally The New York Times reported that in mid-December, 2007 that Patrick J. Foye, co-chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, "acknowledged that the convention center expansion that he inherited from a previous administration was 'dead' and "$1 billion more expensive than had been previously stated." On December 22, 2007, The New York Post ran an article by David Seifman that said that "Mayor Bloomberg suggested that delays caused by the Spitzer Administration's lengthy review of the Javits Center's expansion plan contributed to the skyrocketing costs that killed the project."

At the same time, plans were advancing for the redevelopment of the former post office on Eighth Avenue across from Madison Square Garden as well as proposals to relocate Madison Square Garden into the revamping of the post office and replace it with major office buildings.

In addition, Vornado Realty is contemplating demolishing the huge Hotel Pennsylvania (see The City Review article) on Seventh Avenue for development of a major office building. The Pennsylvania Hotel is one of the city's last major, handsome, early 20th Century hotels designed to accommodate travelers arriving at the city's great train stations. Another similar such hotel is the Roosevelt Hotel on Madison Avenue at 45th Street that was reported recently as about to be offered for sale as a development site for an office tower.

Meanwhile, the city planned to improve access to this vast redevelopment of the area, which is west of the crowded Theater District, the crowded Garment Center, and the crowded Lincoln Tunnel traffic, with an expansion of the 7 subway line west on 42nd Street from Times Square to 11th Avenue and then south to 34th Street. The subway extension would add only one stop although initially plans were to provide a "shell" for a second station at 41st Street and Tenth Avenue where there has been a great deal of recent residential development.

Many local elected officials sent a letter a few days before Christmas to sterday to Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Daniel Doctoroff declaring that plans to extend the 7 subway line from Times Square to Javits Convention Center and the MTA's West Side railyards without creating a station at Tenth Avenue and 41st Street is "a profound mistake, inconsistent with public promises and an invitation to fiscal irresponsibility."

Not building that station, they argued, "would represent a failure to provide for the area's growing residential population" and "would also put at risk several million square feet of potential commercial and residential development, which would generate substantial direct and indirect economic benefits for the City."

The elected officials who signed the letter were Senator Charles E. Schumer, City Controller William C. Thompson Jr., City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, Congressmen Jerrold Nadler and Anthony Weiner, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, State Senator Tom Duane, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

The letter was also signed by Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, Kathleen Treat of the Hells Kitchen Neighborhood Association and Christine Berthet of the Clinton/Hells Kitchen Pedestrian Safety Coalition.

The plans for the extension have called for it to be financed by the City with bonds backed by anticipated payments in lieu of taxes from the development of the West Side with a total of $3.1 billion to be issued with $2.1 billion being for the extension and the remainder for infrastructure improvements on the far West Side such as the "profiling of 33rd Street, the reconstruction of the 11th Avenue viaduct, the construction of a mid-block boulevard running from 33rd to 38th Streets and the construction of parks and open space," the letter maintained.

"If it is possible to take funds initially targeted for other infrastructure projects and redirect them towards a second 7-line stop, that option must be explored immediately," the letter stated.

"It is our understanding that, due to high-than anticipated costs, the option of this second station was eliminated from the plans in order to reduce the overall contract from nearly $1.5 billion to $1.14 billion.

"Parcels of land in the northern part of the Hudson Yards district - between 38th - 43rd Streets - lack the transportation infrastructure and amenities of the 34th Street corridor and will be more difficult to develop without this subway station," the letter continued.

An article by Charles V. Bagli the following day in The New York Times quoted John Gallagher, a spokesman for the Bloomberg administration as stating that "It's time for Senator Schumer and his colleagues in Albany and Washington to step up to the plate with adequate capital funding for the M.T.A., so that they have the resources to provide the rest."

A December 23, 2007 editorial in The New York Times said that Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, who recently announced that he was resigning, "now seeks a compromise" and "he says the city would pay half the cost of the 10th Avenue shell, and the M.T.A. could pay the other half."

Perhaps a Robert Moses could digest all these immense projects in a few months, but probably not the public, nor architecture critics, nor government officials.

The city has projected that its population will grow by a million people by 2030 and that it must act now to accommodate growth. The Far West Midtown South district is apparently seen by the city as having the potential to be the city's third major business district although while 125th Street and Park Avenue could become that or downtown Brooklyn or Jamaica are issues not raised by community groups that apparently have been rather stunned in semi-silence by all the plans. (It should be noted that Community Board 4 has worked extremely hard on these issues under very difficult deadlines, given the relative lack of nitty-gritty information on the proposals.)

Clearly the planning fiascos of the convention center and the 7-line extension and the failure of Madison Square Garden to participate yet in the plans to create an "improved" train station are very, very significant obstacles for these grandiose multi-billion-dollar plans.

The good news, however, is that the High Line elevated park that runs from Gansevoort Street south of 14th Street to the MTA yards is proving to be a sensationally successful development created by the two founders of the Friends of the High Line and has attracted a great many interesting projects in Chelsea.

The north end of the High Line wraps around the southwest corner of the combined two sites and the RFPs express "the goal of retaining those portions of the High Line "if possible" and "respondents are required to include alternative treatments of the High Line in their proposals to allow the MTA to assess the costs and land value effects associated with retention or removal."

The request for proposals put out by the MTA for its 26-acre rail yards, which separated by 11th Avenue, was contained in a 266-page document and developers had 90 days to submit proposals. Construction of the eastern yards could begin after board approval as that yard was rezoned in 2005. Plans for the western yards, however, must go through an environmental review after conditional board approval and then go through the city's Uniform Land Use Review Process.

The developer of the western yards has to provide space for a public school and make 20 percent of all residential rental units "affordable." The developer of the eastern yards must set aside 200,000 square feet of the developable 6.3 million square feet for a "major new cultural facility" to be selected by the developer and the city.

Plans for developer Related Cos. utilize anchor tenant News Corp. to "activate" the park in the words of CEO Stephen Ross and bring people to the area for open-air movie screenings and NFL pre-game shows.

For developer Extell, the plan brings a "triple tower" skyscraper to the area and a series of angled towers to bring different slants of sunlight to the area at different times of day.

Plans for Vornado and Durst call for an elevated "skyline" to run alongside the High Line and a "people mover" to shuttle people over from Penn Station and a new headquarters for Condé Nast. Architect Dan Kaplan explained that "we wanted to design the area so that it wouldn't be an island unto itself."

The vision for developer Brookfield Properties wraps the area into West Chelsea by reintroducing the street grid for cars and pedestrians.

Tishman Speyer plans an amphitheater, 13 acres of open space and residential towers that preserve views. The project is anchored by Morgan Stanley headquarters.

The MTA rail yards proposal is significantly larger than the Ground Zero plans (see The City Review article)and more complex.

What follows are descriptions and graphics for each of the five plans:

Extell Development

Model of Extell plan

Model of Extell plan

Extell Development posted its plan for the redevelopment of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority railyards that straddle 11th Avenue between 30th and 33rd Streets on its website a few days in advance of the authority's public exhibition in early December, 2007, of the competing plans.

On October 5, 2007, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released the names of the five developers who submitted bids for the redevelopment of its open train yards near the Hudson River in midtown.

The other four submissions were Brookfield Properties Developer LLC, The Related Companies, TS West Side Holding, LLC (a joint venture of Tishman Speyer and Morgan Stanley), and Hudson Center East LLC and Hudson Center West LLC (a joint venture of Vornado Realty Trust and The Durst Organization, Inc.).

Drawing of Extell plan

Drawing of Extell plan

The Extell submission has been designed by Steven Holl and places all of its tall buildings on "terra firma" to minimize disturbance of the railyards. In contrast to the proposed plan by the Hudson Yards Development Committee that called for new buildings to have a "footprint" of 596,021 square feet, the Extell proposed buildings have a footprint of about 292,068 square feet permitting 75 percent of the site to be open as opposed to only 48 percent in the committee's plan.

Drawing of Extell plan view from the north

Drawing of Extell plan view from the north

The Extell plan calls for 6 "Sunslice" residential towers on its south "west" site, a tower with curved walls at the northwestern corner with about 846,810 square feet of residential space, a low-rise "porous" office building on the northern edge, and a very tall cluster of three towers joined at their tops at the northeastern corner with a total of more than 3 million square feet.

Building heights

Site plan with building heights

On the south "east" site, the Extell plans call for two residential towers with a total of about 1,313,350 square feet and an office tower of about 1,174,650 square feet and a performing arts center and school of about 285,000 square feet.

Three-leg skyscraper viewed from the south

Steven Holl drawing of three-leg skyscraper viewed from the south

The top of this large structure will have more public observatory space than at Rockefeller Center and the Empire State building combined. At the Cooper Union presentation, Mr. Holl noted that the design's three "legs" provide alternate "escape routes" if needed in emergencies, an ingenious idea and one that might be further augmented, perhaps, by some lower skybridges between the "legs." The tower recalls Peter Eisenman's wonderful unbuilt design in 1991-2 for Max Reinhardt Haus, an angled and gridded tower that rose and then bent over and to touch the ground again in Berlin

Rendereing of plan from the northwest

Rendering of Extell plan from the northwest

The "Sunslice" towers have complex angled tops based on "sun angle calculations" and will have wind turbines "inside of their thin tops" and each will have about 500,000 square feet of residential space.

View from the southwest

Aerial view from the southwest showing bridge over west side highway and central park on suspended platform

The Extell plan keeps the High Line elevated structure that turns west on 30th Street and then north at 12th Avenue to 33rd Street and Extell then extends it west through a new tower to a bridge over the avenue to a pier and ferry terminal.

View from the east

Rendering showing view from the east

The "porous," 10-story, office building along 33rd Street will have floorplates of more than 100,000 square feet that can accommodate trading floors or convention center expansion space and the building will be raised on a grand peristyle of columns.

Extell's 70-story tower outside the project

View from inside central park looking to the southeast and Extell's 70-story tower just outside boundaries of project

Extell owns a parcel just outside the MTA Yards on the southeast corner of 30th Street where it had previously commissioned Mr. Holl to design a 70-story tower, shown above.

View looking east

View with inside central park looking east with clear view of Empire State Building

A major highlight of the Extell plan is its large "commons" that is open at both its east and west ends providing vistas of the Empire State Building and the Hudson River. Moreover, the commons is atop a suspended platform that curves gently upwards on its north and south sides and can be constructed without any disruption to the tracks beneath it. All other proposals call for platforms to be erected on supports throughout the yards, a more expensive solution.

Steven Holl

Steven Holl

Gary Barnett of Extell

Gary Barnett, head of Extell, right, talking with Ada Louise Huxtable, the architectural critic, left, at Cooper Union

Unlike the other proposals, the Extell plan is the vision of one man: Steven Holl, the architect of Simmons Hall, a dramatic dormitory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (see The City Review article), "Looped Hybrid Housing," a spectacular megastructure now nearing completing in Beijing (see The City Review article) and of the recently completed, mostly underground, addition to the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum in Kansas City. Holl does not have a specific style but a wonderful sense of monumentality and a rather poetic knack for unusual and compelling compositions.

"Steven Holl's quite old High Line plan

Steven Holl's plan for residential developments atop the High Line from many years ago

He also has long cogitated about the High Line.

The Holl plan is the best of all the submissions because it creates a magnificent new "commons" for the city with great vistas of midtown and the Hudson river that also is a spectacular feat of engineering, because it not only preserves but extends the High Line, because it affords a potentially significant expansion for the Javits Convention Center, because it provides a bridge over the highway to a pier and ferry terminal, and, most importantly, because it creates a world-class ensemble of extremely interesting and extraordinarily distinctive buildings.

At first glimpse, one might think that the large, low-rise, horizontal building raised on pilotis to maximize views of the commons might be better placed on the site's south side to maximize sunlight falling upon the commons. The choice to put it on the north is actually quite wise as it does afford an important opportunity to meet the expansion needs of the Javits Convention Center just to the north, especially in light of the state and city's collapsed and faulty expansion plans. That placement decision apparently also led to the very unusual configurations of the tops of the "Sunslice" buildings. These will not be small buildings but they will be thin. While the carving away of their tops may provide some extra square footage of sunlight on the commons, the thinness of the buildings will create a quite dramatic dynamic to the skyline, a kind of stacatto architectural symphony that will create a most intriguing skyline, highlighted, of course, by the tripod tower whose irregular top redefines most notions of skyscraper. While the up-and-over form owes a bit to an unusual, but much shorter tower plan, albeit with only two "legs" by Peter Eisenman, it has an immensely powerful aesthetic based on its tall height and its battered macehead top that harkens to ancient civilizations even if it is enclosed in glass. The city is in desperate need of observatories and this promises to easily be the most spectacular.

The High Line bridge building at the site's northwest corner has very sinuous lines in contrast with the rest of the plan. Curves are not always easily handled in architecture but the basic form here is very pleasing expecially the way the base sucks in for the bridge. This tower is sort of icing on the cake for it emphasizes that diversity of form and style can be a good antidote to massive conformity that can be overbearing and perhaps, over time, dated.


Brookfield Properties

Model Brookfield rendering

Model, left, and rendering, right, of proposal of Brookfield Properties as seen from the west

The proposal by Brookfield Properties to redevelop the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's rail yards on the west side of midtown Manhattan calls for the creation of 12 million square feet of space on 50 percent of the site.

The proposal is distinguished by designs by six different architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, which also prepared the master plan and open space plan along with Field Operations; Thomas Phifer & Partners; SHoP Architects PC that designed The Porter House on the southeast corner of Ninth Avenue and 15th Street; Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the designers with Field Operations of the High Line Park, now under construction; Kazuo Sejima + Ryue Nishizama/SAANA, the designers of the recently opened New Museum of Contemporary Art on the Bowery; and Handel Architects.

Rendering of plan as seen from the southwest

Rendering of Brookfield plan as seen from the southwest

Its plan calls for 4 office buildings with a total of 6,300,000 square feet including ground floor retail, 8 residential buildings with 3,298 units, 3 hotels with 2,025 rooms, 486,000 square feet of retail space, and two cultural facilities of 100,000 square feet each, and two community spaces with 154,300 square feet including a 115,000-square-foot school.

aerial view of models of tall towers at eastern end of the site

Aerial view of models of tall towers at eastern end of site

At the eastern edge of Brookfield's plan, Skidmore Owings & Merrill has designed two tall, office towers whose facing facades have rather voluptuous vertical curves overlooking a spectacular "Hudson Hall" with an undulating glass roof. The "hall" was created by diagonal pylons between the towers and its overall form is somewhat reminiscent of Santiago Calatrava's proposed transportation center at Ground Zero. It is not clear whether the huge diagonal braces serve a structural purpose for the two office towers or how windy the area beneath the roof might be. The glass roof appears to be extremely elegant and interesting but the extension of the braces above the roof to the sides of the towers is dramatic but awkward and perhaps unnecessary.

Building heights

Site plan showing building heights

The shape of the towers is soft and sexy and certainly the city needs soft and sexy buildings but these do not relate to the rest of the Brookfield plan and therefore seem rather out-of-place. If their design had influenced the rest of the project, it might have been more acceptable. Brookfield, to its credit, decided not to commit the design of the huge site to one architectural firm and while New York is defined by its architectural chaos and individuality is highly prized a site of this scale and importance might be better served by a cohesive rather than totally disparate design.

Hudson Hall at eastern end of site

Rendering of Hudson Hall between tall towers at eastern end of site

The glass-vaulted gateway is called Hudson Hall, between the project's two tallest buildings will supposedly "invite pedestrians from Tenth Avenue through to Hudson Place and extend 32nd Street to the river."

Rendering of western end near river as seen from the south

Rendering of western end near river of Brookfield plan as seen from the south

The western end of the Brookfield plan is dominated by two towers designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, a design firm largely involved with the design of the High Line Park and also with major design projects at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (see The City Review article).

Skybridges for joggers

Rendering of two towers, Two and One Hudson Green, designed by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro with dual skybridges for joggers

The two residential towers, One and Two Hudson Green, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro are at the northwest corner of the site and are collected by two sky-bridges more than 26 stories up. "Grand staircases, ramps and the amphitheater connect the Hudson Green with the High Line below" and "a pedestrian footbridge connecting Hudson Yards to Hudson River Park springs from the northwest corner of Hudson Green," according to Brookfield documents. The two Hudson Green towers are of unequal height and the eastern facade of the taller, western building is inclined to the west. One illustration in the documents showed joggers running around the skybridges, which is a building amenity not yet offered in other new luxury residential construction. Rather than sweaty people showing off their often less than perfect physiques, the skybridges might serve a better purpose as observatory-cafés. The tying together of the two towers with the skybridges is, in fact, not only very graceful but exciting and powerful but joggers should stick to the ground.

Site plan

Site plan shows center filled with buildings and east end blocked by tower

According to James Corner, the director of Field Operations, "Three magnificent public open spaces define the Plan - the West Chelsea Promenade, including the historic High Line, creates a two-block long park along 30th Street, lined with cafes, galleries and markets; the central Hudson Place offers a 21st Century cultural arts park, with performance spaces and public art installations, and is capable of supporting events such as Fashion Week; and Hudson Green affords a generous open law area and promenade facing southwest and overlooking the Hudson River, replete with play areas and public gardens, with access over to Hudson River Park."

Model shows relationship to Madison Square Garden and unusual configuration of six towers on south side designed by SHoP Architects

Model shows relationship to Madison Square Garden and Farley Post Office, right, and also shows unusual configuration of six towers on south side designed by SHoP Architects

Along 30th Street, SHoP architects have designed residential buildings that are distinguished by their very interesting swirling notch forms that are very dramatic and very elegant.

Buildings designed by SHoP

Rendering of towers designed by SHoP Architects

Brookfield envisions that the entire project will be completed in twelve-and-a-half years in 2022 with the first residential buildings being completed in 2013, the first commercial buildings being completed in 2012 and the first hotel buildings being completed in 2013.

Brookfield's portfolio includes 75 square feet of office building including the World Financial Center at Battery Park City and 300 Madison Avenue in Manhattan, One, Two and Three Allen Center in Houston, and First Canadian Place in Toronto.

Brookfield's plan has garnered the greatest support on the Internet and its presentations were as good as Extell's, both far and away superior to the other proposals.

While the Diller Scofidio + Renfro towers and those by SHoP Architects are excellent, the rest of the plan leaves much to be designed. The S.O.M. towers are interesting forms that deserve to get built, but not at this site as they are off-center and off-kilter and off-putting.


The Durst Organization and Vornado Realty Trust

80-story mixed-use tower at east end

The east end of the Durst/Vornado plan would have an 80-story mixed-use tower

The Durst Organization and Vornado Realty Trust commissioned FXFowle and Pelli Clarke Pelli to design their plan that already has Condé Nast Publications as the lead tenant for one of its four office towers, a 1.5-million-square-foot building at the southeast corner of 11th Avenue and 33rd Street. It quoted S. I. Newhouse Jr., the chairman of Condé Nast as stating that "we hope to set an example of both design and environmental sensitivity." Condé Nast is presently in a major tower designed by FXFowle on the northeast corner of 42nd Street and Broadway.

Site plan

Site plan

The centerpiece of the plan is an 80-story commercial and residential tower at the center of the 10th Avenue superblock.

In this plan, 20 percent of the estimated 7,000 apartments on the site would be set aside for low- and moderate-income families and an additional block of units would be set aside for teachers, firefighters and othres in middle-income households.

Central park would have myriad pathways

Central park in plan would have myriad pathways

The plan would eliminate the High Line along 12th Avenue facing the Hudson River and it would have 12 acres of open space.

The proposal will pursue LEED Gold certification for each building in the plan, which includes a central cogeneration plant.

Glass-enclosed galleria

Glass-enclosed galleria at the base of two office towers on eastern portion of site

The plan calls for a total of 5.4 million square feet of office space on the eastern portion of the yards with a glass-enclosed galleria at the base of two of the buildings. One of the office towers would have a slightly curved southern façade with an angled top, while others would have "screen" crowns.

Building heights

Site plan with building heights

Rendering of park bridges

Rendering of park bridges

The residential buildings on the western portion of the yards will contain about 6.4 million square feet.

Cultural center

Low-rise, multi-purpose cultural center at the southeast corner of site

The southern edge of the eastern yards will contain a multi-purpose cultural center for temporary exhibitions and also host events ranging from community celebrations to art shows to runway events.

Two towers with some serrated edges soar above cultural center

Two residential towers with some serrated edges soar above eastern top of cultural center

A 125,000-square-foot public intermediate school is planned for the southeast corner of the western yards with entrances both below and at the level of the High Line.

Dan Kaplan

Dan Kaplan of FXFowle making presentation at Cooper Union

The design of the cultural center appears quite exciting and the landscaping of the central park is very intriguing, perhaps too much so.

 

The Related Companies and Goldman Sachs

Plan seen from the southwest

Rendering of Related plan viewed from the southwest with Madison Square Garden shown at the right

The plan of the proposal by the Related Companies and Goldman Sachs proposal has been designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, Robert A. M. Stern and Arquitectonica and it already has an agreement that its tallest tower, a 1,080-foot-high high on Tenth Avenue, would be occupied by the News Corporation with a large winter garden on the west side of the tower in front of a central plaza.

View from the west

Rendering of the Related plan viewed from the west

The plan has 14 buldings ranging in height from 33 to 74 stories including three office buldings, an Equinox hotel, and about 5,300 apartments, of which 2,000 would be rentals of which more than 20 percent would be set aside permanently for low- and moderate-income families. The central park would be 9 acres.

Building heights

Site plan with building heights

The Related plan is a hodge-podge of very different designs, some good and some not, and its presentation documents were less than clear in some instances.

Major tower designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Tower designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox

Major central tower, left, and another office tower, right, both designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox

The major central tower designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox appears to be very handsome with a slanted western facade and multiple multi-story atriums, but another tower designed by the same firm is quite conventional.

Pair of towers designed by Robert A. M. Stern Pair of towers designed by Robert A. M. Stern

Two groups of towers in plan designed by Robert A. M. Stern

Rosemarie Ginevro and Robert A. M. Stern

Rosemarie Ginevro, head of Architectural League, and Robert A. M. Stern at Cooper Union meeting

Similarly, the two tower groups designed by Robert A. M. Stern are very different. One, shown above on the left, recalls his very popular and successful recent Post-Modern design for 15 Central Park West, but the other group, shown above on the right, are modern glass towers of similar banded facade treatment but different forms with what appear to be inset balconies.

Pair of towers designed by Arquitectonica Tower designed by Arquitectonica Pair of towers designed by Arquitectonica

Towers designed by Arquitectonica

Arquitectonica, the architectural firm that has for a generation set the style standard in Miami where it is based, has designed several towers, all very different.

Bernardo Fort-Brescia

Bernardo Fort-Brescia of Arquitectonica at Cooper Union meeting

One group, shown above at the left, consists of towers joined by the top, apparently, by a huge trellis, surely the strangest design in all of the proposals. Another tower, shown above in the middle, appears to a quite conventional, clean modern tower and from the rendering appears to have a tapering chamfer that does not extend all the way to the top. It has also designed a pair of related glass towers with banded facades, shown above at the right, but unequal heights and bulging wastelines that are neither beautiful nor ugly.

Bridge over West Side Highway

Related plan has attractive pylon bridge across the West Side Highway

The proposal by the Related Companies and Goldman Sachs to redevelop the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's rail yards on the west side of midtown Manhattan calls for a 9-acre waterfront park with a bridge to the Hudson River Park, a two-million-square-foot headquarters building for the News Corporation that would be 1,080 feet high.

Atrium

View of atrium near office towers

Some observers have commented that this plan turns a lot of space over to promoting the various enterprises of News Corporation with large screens and the like, as shown above.

"Signature cultural facility"

"Signature cultural facility" along 30th Street

The plan also calls for a $100 million contribution to a "signature cultural facility" and a "new public school and other cultural amenities." The rendering shown above is apparently the cultural facility and its shifted layered design on pilotis and hovering over a what appears to be a circular entrance/stairwell is attractive. Unfortunately, many of Related's presentations were not shown in the exhibition and were also of mixed quality making assessments difficult.

Tishman Speyer Properties and Morgan Stanley

Rendering with view from the west

Rendering of Tishman Speyer plan with view from the west

The proposal by the Tishman Speyer Properties and Morgan Stanley to redevelop the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's rail yards on the west side of midtown Manhattan calls for 13 buildings with about 13 million square feet of space including 10 million square feet of office space and 3,000 residential units, of which about 10 percent would be affordable, and about 500,000 square feet of retail space.

Rendering with view from the southwest

Rendering with view from the southwest

The Tishman Speyer proposal is the most abominable of all the proposals, which is astounding given the fact that Tishman Speyer is one of the city's most important and prestigious landlords whose portfolio includes such iconic and world-class properties as Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building.

Model

Model of Tishman Speyer plan

Model of plan

Model of Tishman Speyer plan

A plexiglass model at the exhibition did not have colored top floors as in the rendering but at least gave a sense of pristine workmanship that could not disguise, however, not only the very strange slants of its four major towers on the eastern part of the site but also the equally strange diagonally patterning of their facades.

Helmut Jahn is the architect for the project and has worked previously for Tishman Speyer. He is most famous for the stunning State of Illinois Center in Chicago and his projects in New York include 425 Lexington Avenue, International Plaza across from Bloomingdale's and Citispire on West 56th Street.

Site plan

Site plan

Building heights

Site plan with building heights

The plan would also include a PS/IS school and a new "town square" for the West Side.

Helmut Jahn is the architect and Peter Walker is the landscaper architect.

The plan calls for all the buildings to be LEED Gold-certified.

The project combines a crowded mix of low-, mid- and high-rise buildings.

According to an article in The New York Times by Charles V. Bagli five of the seven residential buildings "would be cantilevered over the High Line."

Morgan Stanley, which is a partner in this venture, has its headquarters now in Times Square.

Conclusion

While it is true that the developer teams had very little time to respond the Request for Proposals, which explains some of the vague presentations, and while it is also likely that the plans will change over time, hopefully this major project will not suffer the same shoddy scenario that we have witnessed at Ground Zero, a much smaller site.

While Internet surfers seem to indicate a preference for the Brookfield plan and some print journalists have suggested that Related has the "inside" track, there is no question that Extell's is the most original scheme and that Brookfield the second best.

Extell's suspended platform would appear to be significantly less expensive to build and vastly less disruptive, both important factors. More importantly, however, its three-legged tower and observatory is extremely exciting even if it will not win a lot of beauty contests. It does not fall into any convenient architectural style although its top has a gargantuan spirit of expresssionism especially when contrasted with its lower but not small group of towers across this plan's open central park whose wildly different "Sunslice" tops defiantly proclaim a new skyline aesthetic based on confident strength and not stylistic flamboyance.

Holl's post projects have combined monumentality with a poetic sense of proportion and individuality and Individuality is the hallmark of Americanism and New Yorkism. The big tower and the small "Sunslice" towers also contrast with the sinuous form of Holl's High Line Bridge tower overlooking the river but the constrast is not incongruous because it is significantly separated from the others by the large and handsome horizontal building in the middle of the north frontage that conceiveably could serve as a significant resource for the beleagured Javits Convention Center, a center that the city must find ways of improving to remain competitive.

The large open spaces of Extell's central park afford vistas both the east and west, a solution only applied also in the Tishman Speyer proposal.

New York City needs great open spaces for major urban events and as demonstrated certainly by the Sheep Meadow and Great Lawn in Central Park. Central Park, of course, has a great many different landscapes and it is event that such a specific solution was contemplated in the Durst/Vornado plan that has skywalks, bridges and nooks and crannies - everything that a "My Man Godfrey" treasure hunt requires, but unfortunately too much and too specific a solution for such a major public site. In the ideal world, of course, the city could accommodate both approaches and the Durst/Vornado park plan might work between replacing the grand diagonal boulevard the city plans beteen 42nd and 34th Street. The Extell open plan permits a variety of grand uses but the Durst/Vornado is an intimate approach to grand space. Great malls, like one on in Washington, D.C., can accommodate great monuments and a variety of subsections, even labyrinthes.

I am sure that some observers are sitting on the sidelines assuming that the MTA in its infinite wisdom, and let us not forget its wonderful art program that has greatly beautified many stations, will pick one from Extell column, one from Brookfield column, and soon and suggest another round of competition like we have had at Ground Zero. The Ground Zero competititons, however, have not come up with a greater plan and it would be a very wrong public policy to renege on one's regulations and promote aesthetic thievery. Of course, an alternative might be to say well we like this aspect of one plan and that should be developed by its originator and this aspect of another and that should be developed by its originator: a piecemeal approach. Given the vast economics and time frame of this site's potential development, however, those are not really viable options. There is nothing wrong, of course, with picking one winning plan and asked them to slightly tweak one aspect of it.

A big problem in all of this is that it is being rushed ahead without adequate details and public imput. It is also disconcerting that the MTA might be placing very heavy emphasis on how much money it will get from all this, a frightening reminder of the fiasco of the Coliseum site redevelopment at Columbus Circle when the winning bid was determined solely on money and the process had to be restarted at very great expense and frustration to developers who have long been very leary of having to deal not only with city agencies but community groups, whose many voices have yet to really surface on this plan, although many members of Community Board 4 have spent enormous energy and reflection on it. Incredibly, to date, the community groups have harped only on trying to get as much affordable housing and community facilities - obviously very important needs - and have not bothered to comment in any meaningful way on the quality of the architectural and urban planning, which are more important for not only the community, but also the city, and the region.

Some commentators have scoffed that Brookfield is not as big or experienced or important a developer as The Related Companies or Durst/Vornado, and have conveniently overlooked the fact that Brookfield is the successor firm to Olympic & York, the Canadian company that built not only the spectacular World Financial Center at Battery Park City with its very great Wintergarden, but also Canary Wharf in London and countless major skyscrapers in major cities across the United States.

Two elements of Brookfield's plan are quite appealing: Diller Scofidio + Renfro two towers connected by two skybridges, an exciting and very elegant design, as long as not reserved for sweaty joggers but skyline observers and cappucino drinkers, and SHoP Architects interesting group of twisted towers on the south side.

The one element of all plans that seems to have generated consistently interesting designs is the low-rise cultural center and Tishman Speyer's and Durst/Vornado's appear to be the best, although the lack of good renderings and models make a final choice still impossible.

Lastly, how the projects interface with the rest of the city is very important. When Battery Park City's final design was created, it was designed to try to retain the city's street grid and sightlines, an important consideration, of course, but given the city not necessarily the best as the far more important consideration was the creation of its great waterfront esplanade and the failure to put the West Side Highway underground to make for a seamless connection with the rest of Lower Manhattan.

Some of the submitted proposals have made an effort at their corners to make access to the platform/deck inviting, an important consideration, but only Extell and Tishman Speyer opted to kept vistas open at the site's east and west ends, sacrificing the higher rents that a tower obstructing the vistas to the east would bring for the glory of being able to see the Empire State Building from the central park.

Finally, one must comment upon the advisability of design by committee, or by master architect. Committees inevitably make compromises and often are not aesthetically qualified or unified. A master plan by one individual can be inspired and great, or a terrible disaster, but in this age of belated enhanced sensitivity to architecture and planning disasters can be avoided. Such a notion, of course, favors Holl and Jahn, but Jahn's plan here worse than disappointing, it is not even good enough for Chicago that in recent years seemed to have completed forgotten its great architectural history and sprouted with horrendous designs, except for Frank O. Gehry's great BP Bridge, Pritzker Pavilion and Great Lawn in 2005 (see The City Review article).

New York needs to be daring, to go after the gold ring of the world's architectural carousel, to reassert itself as a hotbed for great design as it was in the beginning of the 20th Century when its skyline romanced the world!

In an January 2, 2008 article in The Wall Street Journal, Ada Louise Huxtable, the paper's distinguished architecture critic, wrote that "The only...thing we can count on is that whatever is eventually built there will bear very little resemblance to what we are being shown now," adding that "For which we should be tremendously thankful. Becuase it is hard to beliebve that teams with this much financial heft and assembled star power could come up with something so awesomely bad."

"Only two of the five proposals being considered are worth talking about. Extell Development's submission, by the architect Steven Holl, could have the unity, character and potential beauty of a Rockefeller Center, and it is unique in this respect. The scheme files in the face of the current cant about pluralism and diversity and proves again that architecture is about vision and ideas....You have to admire Extell's courage in going with a single gifted architect and putting all its chips on design," Ms. Huxtable wrote.

She liked the "fine environmental hand of Field Operations" in the Brookfield plan, but noted that "Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's most conspicuous contribution is a part of skyscrapes that look, in profile, alarmingly like sex toys."

The Related Companies' proposal, she continued, "has coveredall possible bases with something dreadful for everybody," adding "this is not planning, it's pandering....It is quite clear that they know what they are doing and why they are doing it - and it's perfectly awful."

She was critical of the Durst/Vornado scheme for its "inexplicable revival of the discredited elevated walkways of the 1960s that were a notorious failure in places like London's Barbican and South Bank."

"Finally, there is the elephantine dead-on-arrival proposal by Helmut Jahn and Peter Walker for Tishman Speyer. what in the world were they thinking? This oppressive arrangement of immense matched towers (I will not mention the diagonal stripes) relates to nothing; it is a throwback to the most insensitve urban renewal projects of the past century," she concluded. (1/2/08)

The Hudson Yards Community Advisory Committee has sent the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ten recommendations for the proposed redevelopment of its West Side Yard near the Hudson River in midtown.

Last fall, the M.T.A. received proposals from five teams for the yard's redevelopment and it is expected to select one soon.

The committee was formed pursuant to an agreement between the Administration and the City Council with respect to the Hudson Yards rezoning in January 2005 to advise the Hudson Yards Development Corporation.

Anna Hayes Levin, the chair of the committee, sent a 7-page letter January 8, 2007 to Elliot G. Sander, the executive director of the M.T.A., outlining its concerns and noting that "we are under no illusion that any of the plans will be built exactly as proposed."

The letter maintains that after reviewing the five proposals that "there is too much density" and that "the scale of the buildings is overwhelming" "The base floor area ratios (FARs) of 11 on the Eastern Rail Yard ('ERY') and 10 on the Western Rail Yard ('WRY') seem reasonable until you realize that they are calculated across the entire sites, including open space and streets. Excluding open space and streets (as parks and streets are excluded elsewhere in the City), the effective density over such a large area is in the neighborhood of 25 FAR."

The letter also maintained that "The Hudson Yards area's infrastructure is already strained and insufficient" and "simply cannot support such overwhelming additional development without additional investment in public facilities."

It also said that the affordable housing components of the plans were not "acceptable," noting that "it is appropriate that the MTA's drive for financial gain be tempered by standards of public responsibility" and declared that "the State and City must ensure that development of the West Side Yard creates permanent affordable housing opportunities far greater than the unacceptably small amount currently contemplated."

The letter said that all of the development teams have "commented to us informally" that the MTA's design requirements were "unduly confining, and several have submitted plans that do not conform to all of the design requirements," adding that "the non-conforming plans feature some good ideas that should not be rejected."

The plans "seem, to varying degrees, like private enclaves" that are "disconnected from the surroundings and out of step with the feel of Manhattan" and the letter urges that the superblocks be broken by reintroducing the street grid.

"Before we saw the proposals," the letter continued, "we thought the east-west open space corridor made sense, but the conforming plans raise a concern that they might produce a wind tunnel effect." "Separate, distinctive open space has the added advantage of being constructible in phases and not dependent on completion of the entire plan for the public amenity to be realized," it stated, adding that some committee members "feel that multiple open spaces with distinct programming will be better than one large space without a clear purpose."

The committee argued that "anything less than full preservation" of the High Line structure on the site is "unacceptable," that a "high level of sustainable is financially feasible, and should be required of all developers," that construction employment should have "strong labor provisions and opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses."

The committee noted that none of the development teams "has come up with a committed user" for the planned major new cultural facility at the site and added that "several of the proposals strike us as primarily commercial uses, such as trade show/convention center uses, rather than the not-for-profit cultural facility uses required by the ERY zoning."

"Providing a notable piece of architecture at this site…is very desirable, but it should not take precedence over planning for a real user," it argued, concluding that it believes that cultural activity at the site "can best be accomplished by providing substantial space throughout the development for smaller cultural uses, especially non-profit theatrical and arts companies and artistic support services."

Finally, the committee said that "the financial aspects of the proposals must be made public." (1/9/08)

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Governor David A. Paterson, Metropolitan Transportation Authority Executive Director and CEO Elliot G. Sander, and Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger announced the conditional selection March 26, 2008, of Tishman Speyer to develop the air space over the two development sites that compose the MTA's 26-acre John D. Caemmerer Rail Yard on the West Side.

The Tishman Speyer proposal would construct more than 12 million square feet of commercial, residential, retail, cultural and community space while preserving the High Line's linear open space, including 379 units of affordable housing, and pursuing a LEED Gold standard for sustainability.

"Regardless of the current economic slowdown, New York's long-term prospects are very bright if we make the decisions now to ensure our future. We've done that today," said Mayor Bloomberg, adding that "The outstanding team that they've assembled and their unparalleled track record as one of our city's pre-eminent developers absolutely merit the vote of confidence that the MTA board has given them."

Governor Paterson said that "The selection of Tishman Speyer will set the stage for construction of a beautiful, world-class development that will further the transformation of the Far West Side of Manhattan." "I applaud the MTA for working closely with community groups to ensure that this is an environmentally-conscious project that includes affordable housing and is good for residents, businesses and visitors. The commitment by Tishman Speyer demonstrates to the world despite uncertain economic times, New York City is still a great investment."

"We are extremely pleased that despite a tough market we reached a deal that recognizes the full value of these extraordinary development sites and provides vital funding for our capital needs and enormous benefit for the Far West Side," said Metropolitan Transportation Authority Executive Director and CEO Elliot G. Sander.

"The Board's top priority was fulfilling our responsibility to fund the capital program, which we achieved beyond our expectations," said MTA Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger. "I am thrilled that we were also able to address community concerns and look forward to a continuing dialogue with West Side residents."

"Office buildings, housing, open space and new jobs -- these elements are all critical to the development of the West Side and the future of New York City," said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. "Today's agreement on the Hudson Yards will not only bring much needed revenue to the MTA, but will catalyze growth throughout the West Side and ensure that New York stays competitive in the 21st Century."

"I am very pleased that we are moving ever closer to realizing the full potential of the West Side," said U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton. "This is a significant commitment to open space, affordable housing and environmental sustainability that will also make a significant financial contribution to our public transportation infrastructure."

"The Hudson Yards represents one of the last great building opportunities on the West Side of Manhattan," said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "Now that an agreement has been reached between the MTA and Tishman Speyer, the Council can work with the community to ensure that permanent affordable housing is appropriately incorporated into the project."

"This project will create much-needed revenue for our subways and buses, and I am happy to join Governor Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg, the MTA and Tishman Speyer in announcing that it is moving forward," said Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. "As a participant in the ULURP process I look forward to continuing to work with the local community, the City Planning Commission and the City Council to help make sure that the new Hudson Yards meets the needs of the neighborhood, the city and entire metropolitan region."

"We are honored to have been chosen to develop this important section of our city. Its location and scale afford an unprecedented opportunity to create a new and special neighborhood for all New Yorkers," said Rob Speyer, President of Tishman Speyer. "We look forward to working with the MTA as well as the State and City administrations in the coming years to establish a vibrant development that will engage and enliven our city."

The MTA Board authorized the MTA CEO to execute a Conditional Designation Letter (CDL) with the developer within the next 14 days. Upon completion of this CDL, the MTA would then enter into a contract with the developer within the next 120 days. The proposal for the WRY would then begin an environmental and public review, which consists of preparation of an environmental impact statement followed by the City's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), a six-month series of reviews by the community board, Borough President, City Council and City Planning Commission. The ERY was re-zoned in January 2005 and construction could commence upon completion of the contract with the developer.

Tishman Speyer, whose properties include Rockefeller Center, the Chrysler Building and Stuyvesant Town, was one of five ventures that submitted bids last summer to develop the site.

The other ventures were Extell Development, Brookfield Properties, a venture of the Durst Organization and Vornado Realty Trust, and the Related Companies.

All of the submitted bids called for the erection of a platform to permit the continued use of the yards except for the one submitted by Extell that called for a suspended level over the yards.

In the first round of bids submitted in October, the top bid of $1.049 billion was submitted by Related, followed by $1.015 billion submitted by Durst/Vornado, $908 million submitted by Brookfield, $819 million submitted by Tishman Speyer, and $598 million submitted by Extell.

A second round of bidding was requested in February. Brookfield Properties did not submit a bid but indicated it could be involved as a co-developer, and Related submitted a bid only for the western half of the yards but not the eastern half.

Extell submitted the highest bid in the second round: $1.15 billion. However, it did not agree to pay sales tax and that refusal led to its elimination in the bidding process. Related's second round bid was $943 million, Tishman Speyer's was $897 million and Durst/Vornado's was $842 million.

The MTA then asked for more bids from the two remaining ventures and Tishman Speyer offered $1.004 billion and Durst/Vornado $892 million. Over the last few days, Durst/Vornado upped its bid but it still fell short of Tishman Speyer's.

The Durst/Vornado plan included new headquarters for Condé Nast Publications and a much higher number of apartments than the Tishman Speyer plan, which attracted little enthusiasm from architectural and community commentators.

The selection of the atrocious Tishman Speyer plan is incredible as it was widely considered to be the worst plan of all those submitted. (3/26/08)

On Thursday afternoon, May 7, 2008, the MTA announced that Mr. Bagliit had reached an "impasse" with Tishman Speyer. The agency's brief statement said that "the cause of the impasse was Tishman Speyer's attempt to change a central deal term in an effort to postpone the closing on the Eastern Yard until the Western Yard was satisfactorily re-zoned. This demand changed the economics of the proposed deals and the certainty of payments to the MTA. The MTA remains committed to developing these unique and very valudable parcels of land."

The announcement came only six weeks after the agency had selected Tishman Speyer, one of the city's major real estate concerns and owner of the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center, over four other ventures that had submitted bids to redevelop the 26-acre yards to the west of Penn Station with millions of square feet of office space and several thousand units of housing.

The design of the Tishman Speyer proposal by Helmut Jahn had not been popular and Morgan Stanley initially had been a partner in the proposal but subsequently withdrew. An article by Charles V. Bagli in the May 8, 2008 edition of The New York Times said that Tishman Speyer has been looking recently unsuccessfully for a major office tenant, adding that "Even two companies that had been allied with other bidders for the project, Condé Nast Publications and the News Corporation, turned it down, according to real estate executives who were briefed on the negotiations."

Mr. Bagli's article also reported that the executives maintained that Tishman Speyer "also jettisoned its designs by the architect Helmut Jahn."

The yards are divided in two sections and the western half still requires a rezoning that has yet to begin to go through the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

An article by Brian Kates, Kirsten Danis and Leo Standora in the May 8, 2008 edition of the Daily News said that "Tishman wanted to postpone closing on its lease for the site east of 11th Avenue between W. 30th and 33rd Streets until the City Council rezones the western half of the property to its satisfaction." That article also quoted a MTA spokesman, Jeremy Soffin, as stating that Tishman Speyer no longer has development rights to the property. It also quoted Robert Lawson, a spokesman for Tishman Speyer that "we still hope to be able to complete this deal and reach an agreement that satisfies the needs of everyone."

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky announced on May 8, 2008 a bill to create a new public authority similar to the one that oversees Battery Park City to take over the redevelopment of the yards by selling parcels to developers as they are ready.

On Friday, Jerry Speyer of Tishman Speyer flew to London to meet with Mayor Bloomberg. Mayor Bloomberg said he was hopeful that problems will work out and that the 7 line extension, which Tishman Speyer was supposedly also concerned about, would go forward, but he did not indicate whether it would have more than 1 station as most civic organizations say is needed. (5/8/08)

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