The announcement by the state on Thursday that it would put on hold its intent to sell a block of land north of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center brings the debate over the facility a major step closer to closure, taking off the table the most controversial piece of Governor Spitzer’s plans for the facility.
After the governor announced last month that he would proceed with a renovation (and possibly modest expansion) of Javits, he received a major pushback from the Bloomberg administration, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Senator Schumer, Assemblymen Richard Brodsky and Richard Gottfried, users of the facility, and just about anyone else connected to Javits, so it seemed.
But now the state, by agreeing to not immediately sell the northern parcel (which was months, if not more than a year, away from occuring due to a needed lengthy environmental review), seems to have placated the Bloomberg administration and Ms. Quinn, at least for now, giving the renovation plan more steam to make it through the Legislature, which would need to sign off on it.
“The suspension of the sale of the property north of the Javits Center is a very big step forward," Ms. Quinn said in a statement. "The governor deserves a tremendous amount of credit for recognizing that going ahead with the sale without a plan for the future of the convention center would have been unwise."
The city, Ms. Quinn and others have called for further study of expansion options before selling off the northern parcel of land, so as not to box the Javits Center in without options for growth. The state announced its intention today to convene a panel of stakeholders to recommend further action on the convention center, perhaps identifying sites outside of Manhattan.
On its face, the plan to sell the northern parcel seems to preclude a modest Javits expansion of the type announced by the Spitzer administration. It would be difficult to achieve without selling the northern parcel, meaning that without the sale the result may just be a renovation.
A spokesman for New York’s Empire State Development Corporation declined to comment on this hypothetical, but based on the 2006 general project plan, the state would not have enough money to meet the price tag it’s been using for the modest expansion—$1.6 billion—if it did not sell the northern parcel.
Within that $1.6 billion, $339 million was to come from a sale of a parcel south of the Javits Center. The state still intends to sell the southern parcel, though in an amendment to Governor Spitzer’s executive budget, it earmarked the first $345 million or so to go to an affordable housing fund and capital funds for Hudson River Park and Governors Island.
Given that the land has been appraised at a bit more than $400 million, there would not seem to be enough funds left to meet the $1.6 billion.
Announcement on the task force below:
Empire State Development Corporation announces AGREEMENT to create a Convention and Trade-Show Industry Task Force
Task Force will be comprised of City and State, Labor and Industry leaders and study long-term needs of New York City’s Convention industry
Downstate Empire State Development Chairman Pat Foye today announced an agreement to create a Convention and Trade-Show Industry Task Force to study the long-term travel and tourism needs of our city and region.
“We are committed to renovating the Javits Convention Center and to exploring the possibility of a 21st Century convention center to address the future needs of the City and Region,” said Governor Spitzer. “The Task Force will help create the framework for the City and State to come together on a long-term solution for the region’s important travel and tourism industry.”
“The Javits Convention Center is our present and we must now focus on the future,” said Chairman Foye. “Today I am announcing that the State and City are forming a task force representing key industries and stakeholders to focus on the long-term travel, tourism and convention center needs for the region.”
“We need a comprehensive, strategic plan for New York City’s convention and trade-show industries, and I look forward to working with State leaders and other stakeholders to develop one,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber. “The suspension of the sale of the northern parcel is the prudent thing to do, and I am glad a decision on it will be made together by the City and State after we have a better understanding of our long-term convention and trade-show needs.”
“New York City needs a 21st Century urban convention center – one that will bring critically important middle class jobs to our city,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "It’s very important to move forward with a well thought out plan in place. I am very excited to be a part of the Task Force and gratified that the State has heeded our call to defer the sale of an adjacent parcel until a plan is developed. A new convention center will be an economic engine in our city for decades to come.
The mission of the Task Force would be to:
- Analyze the specific convention center needs of our city and region,
- Analyze the impact on local travel and tourism resulting from the development of a new state-of-the-art convention center,
- Examine mechanisms for raising funds to support a 21st Century convention center,
- Review the general spatial and geographic needs of such a center and the feasibility of such a center both inside and outside of the City’s main business district, and
- Publish a report of its findings within 3-6 months of being commissioned.
The Task Force would include representatives of the Mayor, City Council and Governor’s Office, along with representatives from labor, hotel industry, travel and tourism industry, local planning and business advocacy groups, and local elected officials.
In addition to the creation of the Task Force, the State today announced that it would proceed with the sale of the Southern Parcel at 33rd/34th Streets; though State officials would temporarily suspend efforts to sell the Northern Parcel at 39th/40th Streets until development plans are approved by a panel comprised of the Governor, Mayor, City Council Speaker and State legislative leaders.
Empire State Development is New York State’s chief economic development agency, encompassing business, workforce and community development. ESD also oversees the marketing of “I LOVE NY,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information, visit www.nylovesbiz.com.