New Jersey is seeking design ideas and a contractor for its $190 million overhaul of Newark Penn Station, an aging art deco-style building that opened to the public in 1935.
A formal Request for Proposals announced on Aug. 27 seeks designs for that work. Once state officials grant a contract, they would go into a “phased approach” on the work, including “immediate state of good repair needs and long-term capital improvements” to the station.
The planned five years of upgrades and renovations, according to Gov. Phil Murphy during a December press conference, “will restore this station to its full grandeur.”
The work planned for Newark Penn Station has been highly sought after and praised by local officials and business executives, who point out that both the train station and Newark Liberty International Airport are often the first sites many national and international travelers see when they land in the Garden State.
John Saraceno, the co-founder and principal of Onyx Equities, which owns Gateway One, Two and Four around the Newark financial center, said the facelift will “elevate Newark as a prospective location for businesses.”
Onyx is spending $200 million in expansions and improvements, while the nearby New Jersey Performing Arts Center is spending $150 million to construct a 7.3-acre arts center with residential units, restaurants, retail establishments and other cultural spaces.
New Jersey Transit’s plans call for spending $30 million in near-term upgrades, and the remaining $160 million over the next five years. NJ Transit estimates that Newark Penn Station was its third-busiest bus-rail station in 2019.
Restoration and renovations
The first phase of renovations calls for “aesthetics,” according to a statement from Murphy’s office. That includes things like work on the classic wooden waiting room benches, HVAC and air-handling upgrades, a deep cleaning of the limestone exterior, bathroom updates, fresh painting and tiles, and the installation of brighter, LED lighting.
Longer-term upgrades would improve “the station’s openness and overall commuter and visitor experience” and include restoration to the state’s grand waiting hall, according to a statement.
The renovations are particularly tricky, state officials said, because of the historical significance, including stonework and paintings from when the station opened its doors 86 years ago.
“The release of this RFP helps us ensure that the enduring legacy of Newark Penn Station is protected while simultaneously improving and renovating the station to fit current customer needs,” reads a prepared statement from state Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, also the board-chair for NJ Transit.