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New plans for Penn Station, Farley Train Hall unveiled

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MANHATTAN — Penn Station can be a crowded, claustrophobic space for the thousands of commuters who pass through the transit hub every day. Now, new plans for a modernized and spacious upgrade have been unveiled, so we only have to wait a few more years for the experience to vastly improve.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday a set of plans for the renovation of the Penn Station-Farley Complex, aimed at transforming the space into a "world-class transportation hub" which he feels will truly represent New York.

"People are going to walk through this station and recognize that this is New York," Cuomo said.

The James A. Farley Post Office across from Penn Station on Eighth Avenue will become a new 255,000 square foot train hall to house Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak passengers, along with 112,000 square feet of retail space and nearly 588,000 square feet of office space, the governor's office said. The Farley Train Hall is slated to open in December 2020.

Shops and restaurants in the train hall will be located under a new skylight on the building's historic and architecturally dramatic steel trusses.

At the same time, the MTA will begin their overhaul of the 33rd Street concourse at Penn Station and a renovation of the adjacent Seventh and Eighth Avenue subway stations. That includes tripling the width of the existing passenger corridor, which will create higher ceilings and bring bright lighting and new ticketing and information systems. Congestion is expected to decrease.

The Penn Station construction is expected to be finished by the time the Farley Train Hall opens, but phases of subway station construction could be completed as soon as 2018.

Three companies have been tapped by Cuomo to make up the developer-builder team that will undertake the Farley Train Hall project: Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP and Skanska AB. They have guaranteed the $1.595 billion project will be completed on time.

The MTA is on the hunt for a design firm to undertake the concourse and subway station construction, according to the governor's office.