The city council announced Monday that the permit for Madison Square Garden on one of the nation’s busiest transportation hubs will be extended by just five years — a move that comes as a slap in the face to owner James Dolan.
The permit would be the shortest ever granted for the “world’s most famous arena” – and is said to increase pressure on Dolan to help rebuild Penn Station below.
“This gives us an opportunity to find a permanent solution for Penn Station,” said local councilman Erik Bottcher (D-Manhattan) — whose approval is considered critical to any plan — after the proposal was approved by the city council’s zoning committee.
“It gives us the space and time to find an answer to solving this mystery — but not too much space and time,” Böttcher told reporters.
The Dolan family, owners of MSG, have argued that it should be given a license that never expires.
Even hip-hop kings got behind Dolan’s cause.
“You can’t move the Great Pyramids, you can’t move the Statue of Liberty,” Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels wrote in a column in Friday’s Upper East Side community newspaper. Our city. “These are icons. Madison Square Garden is no different.”
But Bottcher argued that the short duration of a new permit would require Dolan to sit down with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and reach an agreement on Penn Station’s redevelopment.
The politician added that he hopes the eventual project could “recover” the destruction of the large railway shed that once stood on the spot that MSG now calls home.
The proposal will now go to the full City Council for a vote in September, where the panel is expected to approve it. Mayor Adams would then either have to agree or veto it. City Hall declined to commit one way or another to the Post Monday.
After MSG’s original 50-year permit ended in 2013, the city approved a decade-long permit. That year, Dolan, a billionaire, was forced to renew his lease on the 22,000-seat arena atop Penn Station again.
He wasn’t happy with Monday’s move.
“A last-minute special permit is not in anyone’s best interest and undermines the ability to immediately transform Penn Station and the surrounding area,” MSG said in a statement, which went on to describe the vote as a “serious detriment to New Yorkers.” and as “a short-sighted move that will further contribute to the erosion of the city.”
Officials had not released the text of the proposal as of Monday night, but zoning committee staff said in a summary read to lawmakers that the permit required Dolan to make changes to the complex to improve pedestrian safety.
“Governor Hochul has made it clear that her priority is to create a world-class Penn Station,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said in a statement.
“Under the leadership of Governor Hochul, Penn Station passengers are already seeing improvements from the new LIRR concourse, and MTA will continue to work with our railroad partners and all community stakeholders to create the Penn Station New Yorkers deserve.”
Neighborhood activists were enthusiastic about the preliminary result.
“I’m very happy, I’m very, very happy,” said Community Board 5 board member Layla Law-Gisiko. “I had tears in my eyes.”
“It’s really significant, really.”