Conventioneering

State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky poked holes in the plan for the Javits Convention Center expansion Thursday morning—and afternoon. A lot of them were awfully small holes, but Brodsky—who is running for state attorney general, remember–did get the staff of the Convention Center Development Corporation to admit that they might have to do a supplemental environmental impact statement because the plan has changed since the one for Hudson Yards was completed. No one would specify how long that would take but figure another two to six months.

Also revealed was that the cost estimate has mushroomed far more than first reported last week, when the revised plan came out. The $1.4 billion budget that the state legislature agreed to in December 2004 included $350 million to build a hotel—paid for partly by a private hotelier. That hotel is not a part of the new estimate of $1.68 billion, so the price tag rose more than $600 million, not $300 million, in the past year.

Estimates are, however, just that.

“First of all, you have to ask, where did this $1.4 billion come from?” Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, which is overseeing the expansion, said after his testimony. “To me it was a fictitious number.” He added that the new design includes better security and an an improved marshalling area for delivery trucks, and a lot of the price increase has come from inflation in the construction industry. But under questioning later in the hearing, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, who is the city’s representative to the expansion committee, acknowledged part of that cost increase was due to the fact that now Javits will grow vertically, because it can’t grow horizontally.

As a result of these higher costs, the West Side will not get the park space it once hoped for. The block-sized field originally planned for the 34th Street front of Javits is going to be sold to developers. The little useless Stonehenge park along 11th Avenue will be sacrificed for a hotel. And apparently, The New York Times tells us, the roof garden has been nixed.

Matthew Schuerman

Conventioneering