At Penn Station, seizing a chance to right a wrong

tags: Penn Station, revitalization



...For decades public officials and countless city skeptics have insisted nothing can be done. Penn Station is a black hole of politics, they say. The owners of Madison Square Garden, which squats on top of the station preventing real improvement, would never budge, especially not with the millions of dollars in tax breaks they’ve been getting or the nearly $1 billion they have poured into the aging arena.

But there are precedents for achieving the impossible.

The Kings Cross area of London, where the St. Pancras and Kings Cross railway stations converge, was a crime-ridden nexus of seemingly intractable poverty, filth and despair going back generations. But through a creative mix of public and private investments — in which the refurbishments of the stations themselves were vital — the area has changed beyond recognition. The two stations have been become major attractions for locals and tourists who don’t even use the trains: they dine and shop there. New housing and an arts university have moved nearby. Google has chosen to locate its European headquarters at Kings Cross because of the stations (which include the London terminus of the Channel tunnel service to the Continent). What had been a drag on the London economy has become a boon to local property values and a Europe-wide emblem of innovation....



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