By Carla Zanoni
WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — A long stalled project intended to modernize the George Washington Bridge terminal will receive an additional $3.2 million from the Port Authority, according to officials.
The announcement comes three years after the Authority announced it would engage in a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion of retail space at the largely defunct three-story transit hub built in 1963 at Broadway and West 178th Street.
The money is in addition to a 2008 pledge of $79.8 million, which matched the $100 million pledge by developer George Washington Bridge Development Venture LLC.
The announcement was presented as part of the Port Authority’s "mission to build regional infrastructure and drive economic growth," a public statement read.
The 47-year-old transportation hub, similar to the Port Authority bus terminal in Midtown, is scheduled for completion in late 2013.
Officials at the Port Authority said the delay for the project was "due to the economy and other issues, but would not elaborate," reported the Manhattan Times.
The project is estimated to quadruple retail space at the terminal to 120,000 square feet and create 746 new jobs.
"Whether you use the George Washington Bridge Bus Station to commute to work or you live in the neighborhood and will be shopping in one of the new stores, today’s action is good news for the people of this region," said Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni told the Manhattan Times in a statement.
City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents the area, said the revitalization of the terminal would have a profound impact on Washington Heights.
"In an area with disproportionately high unemployment, the prospect of hundreds of new, good-paying jobs is no small matter," he said. "I have been a champion of the project from the outset precisely because of the net positive economic impact of the project on Northern Manhattan."
Officials say national retailers have been signed to lease the commercial space, but would give the names of the businesses, the Manhattan Times reported.
When the plan was first initiated, approximately one dozen businesses, including a post office and credit union, were relocated from the station to make way for construction.
A street level Blockbuster Video store closed in 2010 as well, leaving the gates drawn along the busy stretch of Broadway.
Since then, the station has been an eyesore for the community, residents said.
"It’s such a shame to walk past this place and know how great it could be," said Washington Heights resident Martha Henderson, 36.