MTA looking to fill empty spaces inside Grand Central Madison with restaurants and stores

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NEW YORK — For Long Island Rail Road commuters, the journey to and from New York City could soon become more enjoyable.

That’s because the MTA is now looking to fill the empty stores at its new Grand Central Madison terminal on the city’s East Side.

But you may have to wait a little while.

The current window decals aren’t fooling anyone.

“You see store doors. That looks like there should be stuff, but there isn’t,” said Phoenix Boone of Freeport.

But if all goes according to the MTA’s plan, what you see displayed on windows and doors at its new Grand Central Madison terminal could eventually become a reality.

Stores and restaurants are on the way, and LIRR commuters say they can’t wait.

“Would feel like more of a community around here,” Boone said.

“I’m tired of walking by the empty halls every day. It should be convenient on the way in and way out,” added Josh Rosenstrauch of Syosset.

Since Grand Central Madison opened in 2023, only small food stands have been serving riders, but now the MTA is looking for tenants to lease out retail spaces throughout the massive terminal.

“It helps if you’re early for your train. It helps when you get off your train and maybe have some time to kill,” said Lisa Daglian, executive director of the Permanent Citizen Advisory Committee.

Kim Trevisan, director of Grand Central Terminal Leasing and Management, has been working on the project for years.

“The retail that comes here will definitely help define what Grand Central Madison will become,” Trevisan said.

The MTA announced a Penn Station commuter favorite, Tracks Raw Bar and Grill, will be opening another location as one of the new terminal’s first tenants, and officials want the overall project to mirror what Grand Central Terminal offers riders.

“You have certain retailers that want to be in a transit hub,” said Andrew Goldberg, vice chair of the CBRE. “We are seeing a mix of all of it. They might alternate a concept or show a smaller, more curated offering.”

This all comes as Westfield Group, which runs the shops at the MTA’s Fulton Center, is trying to get out of its deal 10 years early. It is blaming crime for scaring away tenants.

The MTA is now suing, and while CEO Janno Lieber said Tuesday he wouldn’t comment on pending litigation, he did say during a panel discussion that Grand Central Madison is well policed.

“This facility has been virtually perfect since day one,” Lieber said. “I think that the world experiences Grand Central as among the safest places you can be in transit, in New York certainly.”

Proposals are due in June, but officials say commuters will likely start to see stores open in 2025, with hopes of a full concourse by 2026.

About 80,000 people use Grand Central Madison daily, which is about 40% of Manhattan LIRR trips.

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