NEW YORK CITY-Construction has begun on the extension of the No. 7 subway line on Manhattan’s Far West Side. The project will start from the line’s current terminus at Times Square and Seventh Avenue, westward under 41st Street to 11th Avenue and south under 11th Avenue to a new station at 34th Street.

Big payoffs are expected for the $2.1 billion the project will cost, and proponents predict transit-oriented development to spring up in one of Manhattan’s most underserved and underdeveloped areas as a result of the build. It is also expcetced to serve as a catalyst for the Hudson Yards project, according to a prepared government statement. The economic development resulting from the completion of this 1.5-mile extension will yield approximately $60 billion in tax revenues to the state and city over the next 30 years, and will create hundreds of thousands of new construction and permanent jobs, the release determined.

The subway advancement might relieve some hesitation developers may have had about developing in the Hudson Yards area. Jeff Katz, president & CEO of Sherwood Equities Inc., who currently owns two parcels in the neighborhood, previously told that getting the subway line in place was essential, not so much for residential property, but for office buildings in the area.

The first $1.1-billion contract for tunnel boring was approved by the MTA on Oct. 24. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says in a statement that the development of the Far West Side “simply couldn’t happen without this extension, and because of it we will see this area give rise to a vibrant and exciting neighborhood with needed housing, office space, commercial and cultural venues, and parks and open spaces.”

The MTA’s Eastern and Western Rail Yards, located between 10th and 12th avenues and West 30th and 33rd streets, represent two of the last significant, multi-block development sites in Manhattan. In July, the MTA issued a Request for Proposals for the development of the Rail Yards, and received five proposals for each yard in October. The proposals are now being reviewed by a selection committee with a majority of its members appointed by MTA and with two representatives from HYDC. The recommended proposal(s) for each yard will then go to the MTA board for consideration in the first quarter of 2008. The proposals are on display through Dec. 14 at 43rd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.

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