For some time now, developers and politicians have been describing the neighborhood around Penn Station, home to the last Sbarro standing in Manhattan and a lot of Irish bars, as the next big thing: a magnetic entertainment, nightlife, and tech hub known as “the Penn District.” Vornado, the biggest developer in the area, which is poised to reap the most benefits from Kathy Hochul’s rezoning plan, seems to use the name a lot but wouldn’t confirm coining it when I reached out.
So what is the Penn District, this new emerging neighborhood that is not the invention of Vornado’s marketing team? The neighborhood’s a little disjointed at the moment, but things are changing. There’s a Dead Rabbit in Moynihan Station and some other buzzy, expensive dining options in the works — notably, a massive Roberta’s slated to open soon. “We tend to gravitate toward interesting neighborhoods with a rich history and abundance of creativity, similarly to the opening of our original Roberta’s in Bushwick,” Roberta’s co-owner told the New York Post of their decision to open in the “Penn District.” (Pay no attention to Vornado’s recent announcement that it was hitting pause on new ground-up office towers in the area. The Penn District is hot and happening!)
There are also some new residential buildings in the works — the construction fencing in the area is truly a thing to behold. There’s 300 West 30th, Hiwin Group USA’s 69-unit condo tower a block from the Farley Post Office building that’s leaning hard on the promise of a revamped district, which is launching sales next week. The development promises “inspired modern living” with “minimalist Mondrian interiors” and finishes reminiscent of a high-end hotel (fluted wood and concrete, smoked mirrors, brushed brass). Amenities will include co-working spaces, for those who want to work from home despite living in Midtown. Prices start at $950,000 for studios, which is considered mid-market — $1,800 to $2,400 per square foot — for the wealthy suburbanites and Facebook engineers with money to burn (the ones who didn’t get laid off, anyway) the development is targeting. (Hey, it’s cheaper than buying in Hudson Yards. And for now, anyway, less dystopian.)
So are you ready to move to the Penn District? If you’re at least curious enough to check it out, there are lots of great transit options nearby, including the “hell hole” otherwise known as Penn Station.