Real Estate

Moynihan Food Hall brings artisanal — and democracy — to Penn Station area

Hungry and thirsty Moynihan Train Hall users no longer have to trudge outside to neighborhood joints to eat and make merry.

Vornado Realty Trust just launched the Moynihan Food Hall, a 25,000-square-foot cluster of a dozen, “curated” vendors on Penn Station’s ground floor, all chosen for their Big Apple connections. The names include Sauce Pizzeria, E.A.K. Ramen and Jacob’s Pickles.

The centerpiece is The Bar, an elegant venue in dark walnut and polished brass run by HPH, the hospitality outfit that owns Harry’s steakhouse, French market Le District, and “World’s Best Bar” award-winner Dead Rabbit, and manages the Financier patisseries.

The Bar — not to be confused with Amtrak’s nearby Metropolitan Lounge,  which is open mainly to select Amtrak ticket-holders — is for everyone, including tens of thousands of local residents and workers en route daily to and from Madison Square Garden, Manhattan West and Hudson Yards.

Moynihan bar
The Bar is open to anyone — not just ticket-holding commuters.

HPH operates The Bar under a management contract, while other, smaller vendors lease their spots from Vornado.

Danny McDonald, a partner in HPH with Peter Poulakakos and Paul Lamas, said that Vornado “paid for the whole buildout.” The bar itself is topped with American black walnut like the one at Dead Rabbit downtown.

The Bar and a few other vendors opened without fanfare a week ago. The area was quiet, much like the adjoining Moynihan Train Hall’s carved out inside the James A. Farley Post Office building. But traffic will likely grow when Amtrak, LIRR and subway ridership increase with the end of Omicron, as now appears insight.

An interior sign that says Moynian Train Hall
Moynihan is part of the Penn Station complex.
Helayne Seidman

The planned February and March openings of more food kiosks, such as Alidoro and Burger Joint, are also certain to draw more customers.

McDonald said, “We only got our liquor license this month and we didn’t put the vodka on the bar until last Friday [Jan. 14]. We’ve seen a steady stream of more people every day.”

Food isn’t served at the bar itself or at nearby tables. But as the eateries around it open, Bar customers will scan a QR code to order dishes from them, McDonald said. (Several food spots are also open in the Vornado-owned Train Hall, including Magnolia Bakery and H&H Bagels, but they are separate from the Food Hall.)

HPH previously operated Vornado’s now-closed Pennsy food hall on Seventh Avenue, which served as kind of a test kitchen to gauge foot traffic in the area. But the Moynihan hall’s rich furnishings and decor are a far cry from the Pennsy’s industrial motif.

People drinking at the Bar
Drinkers will be able to use their smartphones to order food from nearby concessions.

Manhattan has scores of food courts, of course, but the Moynihan Hall stakes are high for Vornado.

It’s part of the developer’s 125,000-square-foot retail presence at Moynihan-Penn Station, which it controls under a 99-year lease from the Empire State Development Corp.

The publicly traded real estate giant regards the Food Hall as key to its entire, enormous West Side commitment. The investment includes the Farley Building, where Facebook leased 750,000 square feet of offices, as well as neighboring office towers Penn 1 and Penn 2.

Vornado also has rights to develop five new office towers in the immediate vicinity as part of the planned $306 billion Empire Station Complex, which was proposed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and has been only slightly scaled down by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Many more of those cute, white Urban Umbrella “alternative” scaffolds might soon be popping up around town.

Urban Umbrella, which already has its stylish scaffolds at 100 locations in the city, has just raised $6.5 million in venture debt  — led by New York-based Anthos properties.

Beautiful white scaffolding with colored lights
Scaffolding can go from gloomy to glam.

The commitment brings Urban Umbrella’s total funding to $26 million in debt and equity. A portion will be used to expand a new modular structure division called Canopies, the company said.

Urban Umbrella founder/CEO Benjamin Krall called the additional debt-based funding round “an important milestone for us . . . We can be trusted to continue our rapid growth trajectory.”

The  “umbrellas” —  tall, white, cross-bracing-free steel sidewalk sheds with columns that branch out at their tops like trees  — are a refreshing break from standard, hulking sheds that darken entrances and scare customers away.

Rue 57’s scaffolding advertises the restaurant’s name — rather than completely obscuring it.

Urban Umbrellas have popped up at the Palace Hotel, Saks Fifth Avenue and restaurant Rue 57. Custom canopies also graced Fashion Week events and Bank of America’s Bryant Park Winter Village Skating Rink.

 New York City is now the world’s largest market for scaffold products, with some 10,000  currently installed.

According to Urban Umbrella, city landlords spend $500 million a year to install or maintain scaffolds. The company didn’t specify how much a given installation costs but said that its products cost three to five times more than ordinary scaffolds.

White Urban Umbrella scaffolding show in the day light.
Urban Umbrella scaffolding costs up to five times more than the conventional kind.

It clearly hasn’t deterred landlords — Urban Umbrella became profitable for the first time in October 2021, the company said.

One of the Upper East Side’s most beloved restaurants, T-Bar Steak & Lounge, has found a new home close to Bloomingdale’s.

Tony Fortuna’s steakhouse, a favorite of real estate moguls such as Larry Silverstein and of famed chefs including Eric Ripert and  Albert Portale, closed last year after 27 years at 1278 Third Ave. Fortuna promised to relaunch it within walking distance. The new location at 116 E. 60th St., between Lexington and Park avenues, is a near-mile walk away, but no less welcome to regulars who miss the original.

Exterior of T-Bar Steak and Lounge
Despite the change of locations, T-Bar Steak & Lounge will retain the same menu, its owner tells The Post.
Google Maps

The new T-Bar will have 4,500 square feet on two levels of the townhouse previously occupied by Ivy Lane. Fortuna said it will have about 140 seats, the same as at the original, but with a completely different look on both floors when it opens in April or May.

The menu will be much the same — “I do what the customer likes,” he chuckled.

The 12-year lease was arranged by the Heller Organization’s Michael Gavin and Joshua Singer. Landlord Solil Management was repped in-house by Jeremy Modest.

The asking rent was a blended $140 per square foot.

Rendering of 32 West 48th Street
Tall tale: A 31-story inn will rise at 32 W. 48th St.
SLCE Architects/YIMBY

Leave it to pro-development site New York YIMBY — “Yes in my backyard” — for one-stop shopping on all the latest plots and plans.

In the past few days, it reported the status of three major new hotel projects. 

Extell is excavating for a 31-story inn at 32 W. 48th St.; work’s nearly finished at the Aman New York super-luxury hotel and residential conversion at the Crown Building; and the glass facade’s fully installed for the 48-story RIU Plaza Hotel at 145 W. 47th St.

Let’s hope the future’s brighter for them than the state of the current lodging market.

But with Omicron clearly on the way out, can it be long before tourists and business travelers return?

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