A long-delayed and much-needed renovation is set to give a new look to an Upper Manhattan bus terminal, but not everyone is happy with how it's shaping up. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
Shuttered stores and empty ticket windows make for one dreary bus depot.
"It feels a little bit depressing, to be honest, just seeing all the storefronts without really anything in them," said one person in the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal. "It feels like more of like a vehicle to get to where I'm going rather than a place I actually want to be in."
The Port Authority says that's going to change by the end of next year, with a $183 million makeover bringing a Marshall's, a gym and other new businesses to the 51-year-old George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal, along with more gates and a modernized waiting area.
However, on Friday, local leaders said their community needs more. On their list includes career opportunities for women and minorities as the space is rebuilt, and higher-paying jobs for local residents when the stores open. They also want a community center.
State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who is running for Charles Rangel's congressional seat, was among those raising their voices.
"We want the Port Authority and the developers to do what's right by this community," Espaillat said. "Very simple requests."
"No one in this area will continue to thrive or be able to reach the next level of our investment in our neighborhoods unless we're paid decent wages," said Lucia Gomez-Jimenez, executive director of La Fuente.
In a statement, the Port Authority said it's met with all local elected officials and is listening to what they have to say.
"We are committed to addressing their concerns. We view this redeveloped bus facility as not only a transportation project but an economic engine that will attract MWBE (Minority and Women Business Enterprises) participants and propel job growth in the Washington Heights community," their statement reads.
The facelift will also detour commuters coming and going from the terminal. A tunnel that connects the 175th Street A train station to the bus terminal will be closed once construction starts. That's something riders said they're really going to miss.
"It's going to be a big headache," said one rider.
"I'm not really too sure what other alternatives I'm going to take to get back and forth, but I guess they do what they got to do," said another.
So will those commuters caught in the way of construction.