Elon Musk’s fabled Hyperloop got some good news recently when, rather than a vague tweet from Musk saying he had “verbal govt approval” for the project, the effort received an actual permit from the Washington D.C. government to do some excavation work.
Just received verbal govt approval for The Boring Company to build an underground NY-Phil-Balt-DC Hyperloop. NY-DC in 29 mins.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 20, 2017
And while the project itself is still very far off from happening, with many developers expressing doubt that it ever will, The Real Deal decided to take a look at some sites in New York where a station could conceivably go. Our list of sites is based largely on their proximity to existing transportation, population hubs and similarities to the lot in the nation’s capital.
The D.C. site is located at 53 New York Avenue NE, a 1,642-square-foot parking lot zoned for commercial use that spans roughly 18 by 99 feet and was last sold in 2015 for just under $2 million. Its current assessed value is roughly $1.1 million, and it is owned by JBG Smith Properties.
TRD identified five similar sites in Manhattan—all vacant lots with no new building permits filed—where the station could go:
-738 Eighth Avenue in Midtown, owned by the Shubert Organization: 1,875 square feet, 18.75 by 100 feet
-8 East 54th Street in Midtown, owned by Tishman Speyer: 1,500 square feet, 15 by 100 feet
-129 East 56th Street in Midtown, owned by Kiska: 1,266 square feet, 12.5 by 100.42 feet
-489 West Street in the West Village, owned by William Gottlieb Real Estate: 1,826 square feet, 23 by 80 feet
-132 East 29th Street in Kips Bay, owned by Robert Wexler: 1,975 square feet, 20 by 99 feet
The proposed transportation system would link New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, and Musk has claimed it would get people between New York and D.C. in just 29 minutes.
When asked about possible locations for the Hyperloop in New York City, a Boring Company spokesperson said only that they were working with local, state and federal officials to build the transportation system from Washington to Baltimore and would then extend it to New York. The company declined to comment further.
A station in New York appears to be largely hypothetical for now, as spokespeople for the city’s Department of Buildings and Department of Transportation both said they were unaware of any outreach the Boring Company had made to their agencies. Mayoral spokeswoman Melissa Grace said that City Hall had a short phone call with the company over the summer about basic details of the project, but they did not discuss locations, and there has been no follow-up on the call.
Better video coming soon, but it would look a bit like this: pic.twitter.com/C0iJPi8b4U
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 9, 2018
New York developers responded largely with skepticism about whether the Hyperloop would come to fruition but said that, if it did, setting up a station somewhere near existing transportation infrastructure would make the most sense.
“You’d have to say the new Penn Station because then you’re connecting to not just subway but commuter rail as well,” said Alan Bell, founder and CEO of B&B Urban and a longtime developer in New York. “You’re connecting to New Jersey Transit. You’re connecting to Long Island Rail Road, and it all feeds on itself.”
However, he added that Musk would have to deal with several more issues when trying to build this project than he has with his other ventures like Tesla and SpaceX.
“It just seems fantastical to me, much more so than building cars or shooting rockets into space because then he controls all the variables,” he said. “In those things, he just has to execute. This, he’s dependent upon outside people, governments. It’s a whole different kettle of fish.”
John Catsimatidis, CEO of the Red Apple Group, also said that Penn Station would be a good place for a potential Hyperloop station and that somewhere by Hudson Yards could also work. He echoed Bell’s skepticism as well.
“I don’t think a lot of people know a lot about it,” he said, “if it’s really real or not.”
Sam Schwartz, the former traffic commissioner of New York City and current CEO of Sam Schwartz Consulting, said either Grand Central or Penn Station could be an option, and if the company was interested in looking at the outer boroughs, Pacific Park (formerly known as Atlantic Yards) in Brooklyn or Sunnyside Yards in Queens were potential spots as well. He also advocated for building a station as close to the waterfront as possible given how much infrastructure already exists underground in Manhattan.
Schwartz gave the project a “really low probability of success” overall, noting that “getting a permit to dig a hole in Washington D.C. is a far cry from getting permission to dig a high-speed rail line between New York and D.C.”
“Anything is possible,” he said, “but I doubt I’ll see this in my lifetime.”