In 2006, the Pataki and Bloomberg administrations announced a plan to modernize and grow the Javits Center through a $1.6 billion plan. Both the city and state would put $350 million each toward the project in an effort to make New York catch up to cities nationwide that had bigger, better convention centers.
And, in 2008, after months of exhaustive review and discussion of tremendous cost overruns, the city and state settled on a major scale-back that would be a $463 million renovation and minor expansion, to be paid for by a tax levied on hotel rooms. The city and state were spared the $350 million each in expenses, and talk of an actual expansion was pushed to some point in the future.
But in the Bloomberg administration’s two capital budgets released since, an allocation for the Javits Center is still there, though not necessarily for any expansion plans. Instead, the budget line for the scuttled plans seems to serve as a parking lot for funds that will ultimately be spent elsewhere. In last year’s mayoral budget, there was more than $150 million less allocated to the fund, with the money apparently moved elsewhere (it also could have been seen as simply being cut, as the economic development capital budget was decreased this year). And in the mayor’s proposed budget released last week, the money listed for Javits was down another $93 million, apparently taken out and moved around elsewhere in the budget. (Perhaps those projects receiving the funding were Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront, which appeared to get new funding.)
Previously, the mayor’s staff has said money from the Javits fund would be used to fund Brooklyn Bridge Park and Governors Island.
To a certain extent, there is some reasoning behind this: The money was once earmarked for economic development, so why not let it get reallocated elsewhere, even if the Bloomberg administration hasn’t yet figured out precisely where to put it?
But the lingering $104 million listed in the budget comes at a time when the city’s operating budget is being slashed, the capital budget has already been cut back and the Bloomberg administration is apparently scaling back spending on repairs and maintenance, per a report from the Citizens Budget Commission.
Still, a spokesman for the mayor said that the city’s commitments remain.
“Until other agreements are finalized, the City’s existing contractual obligations to Javits remain,” said the spokesman, Andrew Brent.