Letters to the Editor: April 11, 2024

Letters to the Editor: April 11, 2024

File photo by Raymond Janis

Port Jeff Branch LIRR riders still waiting for basic amenities at Grand Central Madison

It has been 14 months since the Long Island Rail Road began full-time East Side Access service to the $11.6 billion Grand Central Madison terminal in the Midtown East neighborhood of Manhattan, with the prospect of benefits for Port Jefferson Branch riders. So it is disappointing that MTA Chairman Janno Lieber just announced the release of a request for proposals for a master developer to manage and operate all 32 vacant storefronts at GCM. Responses are due by June with a contract award in summer 2024. MTA anticipates that all 32 storefronts should be open for business by 2026.

In the meantime, only one storefront will be occupied later this year. This is a sad commentary on MTA Chairman Janno Lieber, MTA Office of Capital Construction and MTA Real Estate in management of the LIRR ESA GCM project. The original completion date was 2011. Full-time service began in February 2023. MTA Real Estate had years to find tenants for the vacant storefronts. They should have completed the process to hire a master developer to manage the storefronts years ago. This would have given the master developer plenty of time to find tenants for the vacant storefronts and give tenants adequate time to coordinate the opening of their stores.

Waiting three years until 2026 before all 32 storefronts are open for business is a failure. Given the physical layout, it is also not credible to believe that you can replicate the Metro-North Grand Central Madison Dining Concourse. There is no central location for significant seating. MTA clearly dropped the ball for planning retail openings. It also represents a loss of three years’ worth of tenant revenue. Riders will continue looking at the artwork covering up the vacant storefronts. Commuters and taxpayers have to also ask when will the other vacant storefronts at NYC Transit, Long Island and Metro-North Railroad stations be leased. Why was MTA Real Estate unable to lease all vacant assets in a timely manner? It would have generated badly-needed revenue and provided riders with the basic amenities they are still looking for. 

Larry Penner 

Great Neck