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Some change to come to Times Sq. Station.

While the $165 million renovation of the Times Square subway station has been derailed, improving the city's second largest station remains a priority, according to a New York City Transit Authority official.

The ambitious overhaul of the Times Square station was one phase of the 42nd Street Redevelopment project. Last month the city and the state announced that they were delaying indefinitely the centerpiece of the project -- four office towers -- and releasing the private sector developers -- Park Tower Realty and Prudential -- from their obligation. The developers were supposed to contribute $90 million toward the subway improvement work and $75 million was to come from the Transit Authority's capital budget.

Jerome Forman, senior vice president of the New York City Transit Authority, said that the $75 million is still committed to station work in Times Square.

"It's not like it's totally void of funding," he said. "What is not going forward is the plan [as it was originally conceived].

The original plans, Forman said, would have meant massive structural changes to build a central mezzanine connecting the four office towers and there would be some track reconfiguration. In addition, elevators and escalators were to be installed, new street entrances created and others moved, and a shopping gallery created. But, while extensive -- an entire block of Seventh Avenue would be raised by one foot, Forman said, the plan did not encompass the entire station. It focused on the mezzanine and the shuttle, but did not cover The platforms of either the 1,2,3 & 9 line or the N & R line or the 7.

Forman said his agency foresees and, has already begun envisioning an improvement project of a different scope. The city realizes, he said, that changes to the Times Square Station are long overdue.

"Here we have the second largest station in the system and to date we've done nothing," he said.

More Funds?

At this time, Forman said, there are no additional funds for Times Square budgeted in the Transit Authority's current request for capital programs. Including more funds for that purpose, he said, would mean forgoing funds for other projects.

"There is no enthusiasm to fund $165 million," he said.

Before any work begins a new design will have to be commissioned. The current scheme cost $16 million in architectural and engineering fees. (A new architect has yet to be enlisted.) While the four offices towers were pivotal to the current design, Forman said, they will try to salvage some of it.

"There's a lot of useful work that went into that effort that we can use and extrapolate from," he said.

Those active in Times Square did not seem too disheartened that the grand scheme would not be realized. They are anxious, however, to see the station get better.

Gretchen Dykstra, president of the Times Square Business Improvement District, said: "I'm assuming and hoping some of the cosmetic improvements can be made. Two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand commuters a day deserve something better than they have now."

The subway plan, said Seymour Durst, an owner in Times Square and a long-time foe of the project, was geared toward the four office towers, which he believes should never have been built.

"The main thing was a mezzanine connecting the four office buildings," he said, "so the major benefits for the public wasn't occurring."

While Durst also hopes for a less elaborate subway plan, he doubts the city will put more than the $75 million toward the project because the future return from office buildings on the block is "bleak."
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Title Annotation:New York, New York. Transit Authority plans to improve Times Square subway station
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 2, 1992
Words:587
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