Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sneak Peek at the Space Shuttle Enterprise's Proposed Westside Landing Pad

The President of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum presented residents with initial plans for a new space museum built around the shuttle at this week's community board meeting. The spiraling glass structure will be located on what's now a parking lot across the West Side Highway from the Intrepid Museum, at West 46th Street, With the shuttle at its center, the new museum will have classrooms and laboratories, a theater and a rooftop restaurant.

"This can throw off a huge amount of economic impact to the city and to the state on an annual basis." said Susan Zausner, the museum's president.

NASA awarded the Enterprise, one of four shuttles donated to museums around the country, to the Intrepid in April. In the application to house the shuttle, Intrepid officials said it would be put next to the Intrepid itself. But the shuttle's size forced the museum to consider housing it across the street, which caused an Ohio senator  to call the museum "woefully unprepared" for the shuttle last month.

Zausner said the museum expects to have about 300,000 additional visitors per year, 1,186 new jobs, and will generate about $143 million-a-year in revenue. Members of the community board overwhelmingly agreed that the museum could help transform the image of Hell's Kitchen. "This can really change the area," she said. "This is a beautiful linchpin to what we see as an area really beautifying the neighborhood."

While board members wholeheartedly supported the museum, some raised concerns. The site currently provides parking for 14 buses, the new museum would bring total bus parking up to 28, along with 100 spots for cars.

"We put the shuttle into space," said Tom Cayler, a member of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance. "I think we should be able to figure out how to get some buses in a garage."

The museum currently does not own the lot, which would have to be rezoned for museum use before construction, slated for 2012, could begin.

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