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An article by Eliot Brown in today's on-line edition of The New York Observer said that "representatives of Madison Square Garden were curiously absent" from a meeting yesterday with community groups, advocacy groups, the state and project developers on the redevelopment of the Farley Post Office building. The projects developers are Related Companies and the Vornado Realty Trust.

"When the developers' project manager, Vishaan Chakrabarti, was asked bout the Garden's absence," the article stated, "he said the Dolans had decided not be a part of the Section 106 process," but added that he was hoping "they would rejoin the process."

The redevelopment plan for the post office building has been based in part on creating a new facility for Madison Square Garden in the rear of the building to clear the way for the demolish of the existing Garden to permit a major redevelopment of Penn Station.

Preservationists have indicated they are opposed to major alterations that the Garden wants that would replace a courtyard wall with a glass wall that would better highlight the Garden.

"The Garden feels they need to protect themselves in the event that the project doesn't happen, but we remain hopeful that we're going to be able to strike a deal with the Garden," Seth Pinsky, the president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, was quoted in the article.

In a statement issued to this afternoon, Mr. Pinsky declared that "we continue to be supportive of the project and are actively engaged in negotiating with all of the various parties and remain hopeful we will reach an agreement with all of them including Madison Square Garden."

The lead article in this week's edition of Real Estate Weekly by Daniel Geiger said that "Dissatisfied with the constraints that the state has put on the planned overhaul of the Farley Building, Madison Square Garden is drafting a 'Plan B' to renovate its existing arena rather than move into Farley's western annex." The Pataki Administration had originally planned to convert the eastern portion of the Farley Building into an extension of the train station, but subsequently the plan was expanded by the private developers to relocate the Garden and redo the existing train station.

"After feuding with the state about what type of presence it will be allowed to have in the eastern annex of Farley, MSG is said to be threatening to back out of the preliminary commitments it has made to relocate. According to a source close to the Garden's development the last few weeks, MSG has told its architects, a team from the Toronto firm Brisbin Brook Beynon, to draft plans for a makeover of the current arena. The design would renovate the Garden's aging facilities, but it is also said to include the construction of a new row of corporate boxes and a glass-enclosed complex of retail space that would bring the now barren Eighth Avenue side of the area," Mr. Geiger wrote in his article.

In a separate development, an article by Chris Shott in today's online edition of The New York Observer said that Gregory Jones, a preservationist leading a campaign to have the Hotel Pennsylvania on Seventh Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Streets declared a landmark, received a message February 14, from the Landmarks Preservation Commission that stated that "at this time, the property does not appear to meet the criteria for designation and will not be recommended for further consideration as a New York City Landmark."

The hotel is owned by Vornado Real Estate Trust that has indicated it would like to demolish the hotel, which was designed by the architects of the demolished Penn Station, and once the largest in the city and where many of the leading bands of the 1930s and 1940s played.
Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.