Gov. Phil Murphy joined fellow public officials and stakeholders on Tuesday to announce a $190 million renovation and restoration of Newark Penn Station — Courtesy: Governor’s Office
By Joshua Burd
State officials have unveiled plans for a $190 million overhaul of Newark Penn Station, drawing cheers from the developer that is transforming the landmark Gateway office complex nearby.
The sorely needed project, which Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday, is slated to begin immediately with $30 million in renovations and restorations focused on aesthetics. That will include restoring the waiting room benches, installing brighter lighting, updated bathrooms, improved HVAC and air-handling, fresh paint and tile and a deep clean of the limestone exterior to once again showcase the architecturally significant façade.
The state-funded plan also calls for additional upgrades scheduled over the next five years totaling $160 million.
“Penn Station is a vital hub not just for those heading to New York City each day, but it is also a gateway to Newark and the resurgence that has taken place here over the past two decades,” said Murphy, who joined other public officials and stakeholders at the transit hub for Tuesday’s announcement. “We are thrilled to announce these renovations, which, when completed, will help restore this historic station to its former glory.”
In a separate announcement, Onyx Equities hailed the news as “the single most critical moment in Newark’s revival as a business location in a generation.” The developer leads an investment group that purchased three of four buildings within the Gateway complex in 2018 and is now overhauling the properties, which are connected to Newark Penn via pedestrian concourses.
“Many companies are rethinking their long-term plans, and the shared vision for Newark Penn Station among NJ Transit, the city of Newark and the Murphy administration is sure to elevate Newark as a prospective location for businesses,” said John Saraceno, principal of Onyx Equities. “With the improvements Onyx is making to our Gateway complex, nearly $200 million is being invested in Newark’s front door which is sure to stimulate even more activity in an area that already had renewed energy.”
The Onyx-led investment group, which owns Gateway One, Two and Four, is planning the first-ever street-facing retail space at the 1.6 million-square-foot complex, along with a revamp of the lobbies and the 1,400-linear-foot network of commuter walkways. One Gateway, which will be a focal point of the Gensler-led redesign, will house the roughly 10,000 square feet of retail space and will have a new jewel box entryway that would complement a new-look Penn Station.
“These improvements to Newark’s front door will be transformational not only because they enhance the commuter experience with a compelling retail environment, but because they provide a new customer base to Newark’s local business community,” Saraceno added.
Murphy also detailed other improvements to the station, including new lighting and improved drainage in the bus lanes, along with improved directional and way-finding signage inside. Longer-term enhancements will focus on improving the station’s openness, light and overall commuter and visitor experience.
The state also hopes to make the 85-year-old station, the seventh busiest rail facility in North America, into more of a destination with added dining and shopping in the concourse. The station is served by NJ Transit commuter trains, the Newark Light Rail, the PATH and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor services.
It also serves as Newark’s main bus terminal.
“Newark is the largest city in the state and Penn Station is a major gateway for commerce, employment, and economic development,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. “It is good news that this administration understands the importance of this and are committed to ensuring that this critical piece of infrastructure has significant investment.
“We welcome Governor Murphy’s $190 million state-funded program to upgrade, renovate, rebuild and remodel Newark Penn Station. This project is important for New Jersey as a whole, for our region, and for Newark particularly.”