A Sunnyside Convention Center? Javits Advocates Say Fuggettaboutit

Two business organization leaders said at an Assembly hearing today that they wanted to see an expanded convention center in midtown Manhattan, shedding some doubt on talk of a long-term plan to build a new convention center in Sunnyside, Queens, or New Jersey.

Both Joseph Spinnato, CEO of the Hotel Association of New York City, and Mark Scheinberg, who heads up the New York Auto Show and spoke on behalf of a group of Javits users, said convention hosts come to New York to be at its center.

“It’s midtown, with access to everything that it has, that people are looking to,” Mr. Scheinberg said.

As to the concept of putting a convention center over the Sunnyside rail yards, which is often discussed by planners as a possibility, Mr. Scheinberg said despite the large amount of available space, the location in Queens was unappealing. “For the users, both on the trade aspect of our shows and on the public aspect, it concerns us greatly.”

Mr. Spinnato, who has been a strong advocate of a Javits expansion, offered similar thoughts about the allure of midtown.

The Spitzer administration has been mum about the concept of expanding into Sunnyside or elsewhere, but in the near future, Empire State Development Corporation co-chairman Patrick Foye is expected to present a final plan for the Javits Center. Mr. Foye announced at a December hearing that the state was abandoning any plans to do a large-scale expansion of the Javits Center, as it had long hoped to do.

Mr. Spinnato, whose industry agreed to help finance a Javits expansion with a $1.50-a-night room tax that has been in effect since 2005, said in the short term, he would like to see a minor expansion of the facility with the money already allocated for the project.

“We would like to see that money put into the Javits Center, repair it as best they can, which I’m told [will take] about $800 million, and take the balance and add space as can be afforded,” Mr. Spinnato said.

The hearing, held by Assemblymen Richard Brodsky and Richard Gottfried, covered numerous aspects of development on the West Side; and community and planning groups raised concerns about the financing of the No. 7 subway line extension, and called for the state to maintain ownership of the West Side rail yards.

A Sunnyside Convention Center? Javits Advocates Say Fuggettaboutit