July 19, 2023
by: AIA New York
Madison Square Garden. Photo Credit: Javier Losa via Wikimedia Commons.
Madison Square Garden. Photo Credit: Javier Losa via Wikimedia Commons.

On Tuesday, July 18, the New York City Council’s Land Use Committee’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises held a hearing on the Madison Square Garden (MSG) Special Permit and arena text amendment. In this last phase of the ULURP process, the council is tasked with deciding the fate of MSG’s special operating permit. 60 years ago, MSG was granted a 50-year special operating permit, which allowed the arena to host events with over 2,500 people. In 2013, the special permit was extended 10 years. As the permit’s expiration date approaches again, we have an opportunity to create transformative change and design a space that meets the current needs of the largest transportation hub in North America.  

Last week, the City Planning Commission (CPC) released their recommendation to the City Council to grant MSG a 10-year extension on their special permit with conditions as well as a zoning text amendment (ZR 74-41). Based on CPC’s recommendation, MSG would be required to be consistent and compatible with Penn Station. MSG would have to return to the Department of City Planning once the Penn Station redevelopment plans are 30 percent complete to show their plan for the arena and station are compatible. While MSG requested a permit in perpetuity, CPC said they did not want to do so because the city would not have adequate opportunity to reevaluate compatibility between the station and arena.   

AIANY supports an appropriate limited-term extension of MSG’s Special Permit tied to DCP’s criteria that prioritize the creation of vibrant public spaces in and around Penn Station and MSG, as well as the realization of a modernized Penn Station with the civic presence and scale envisioned by the MTA and the region’s railroads. Our chapter submitted testimony to the City Council where we highlighted the extraordinary significance of MSG’s location directly above Penn Station, the civic importance of the public realm surrounding the station and arena, and the need for a transformation of Penn Station.  


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