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Last Ditch Stand for Javits

01/28/2008

The Spitzer administration has decided to shunt the Javits Convention Center to the back of its agenda. Governor Spitzer’s decision to shelve the Convention Center expansion plans for the time being (by adding less than 100,000 square feet of exhibition space) will negatively impact New York City for many years.

The business community, in general, and the real estate industry, in particular, must fight for a full scale convention expansion now. The failure to do so will cause many hundreds of future conventions to steer clear of New York, causing the City the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

If you care about our great city, then write the Governor and tell him he should expand the Javits Convention Center by the half a million square feet previously planned by prior governors.  - Ed Klein

LAST DITCH STAND FOR JAVITS

No Plan Should Preclude the Possibility of an Expansion Later
Editorial
Crain's New York Business

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080127/SUB/572100027&SearchID=73309252735292

Make no mistake: The Spitzer strategy is a blatant example of short-term thinking for political gain. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says that she opposes the scaled-down plan, and the Bloomberg administration needs to join her in an effort to block it.

The history of the Javits Center is well-known by now. Poorly designed and built, the facility is smaller than all of its major competition around the country. Three years ago, after two decades of initiatives, the city's hospitality industry won city and state agreement to expand it.

But the plan developed by the Pataki administration drew many critics, and the Spitzer administration found that the project would be hopelessly more expensive than had been promised. Thus, the decision to punt. In making that choice, the governor has made it clear that he doesn't believe Javits is important to the city's economic future.

Nothing could be more wrong-headed. Hotels, restaurants and associated businesses are now the city's second most important industry, responsible for some 375,000 jobs and more than $25 billion in economic activity. Those employers, which offer good wages and benefits, are the best source of workforce entry and upward mobility for immigrants. A larger Javits would bring the city hundreds of thousands of additional visitors and spur construction of hotels on the West Side.

The governor may be right that the Pataki plan was too costly to implement and that a renovation is the best answer now. But that should not lead to a decision that will preclude the chance to expand the facility in better times.

Politically, there are at least three reasons it will be difficult to stop the Spitzer proposal:

The city has no direct say in Javits or in the sale of the nearby parcels.

The hotel industry, which led the fight for an improved center for so many years, is ready to concede defeat because it is sure that it alone will be asked to pay for any expansion.

And because the Bloomberg administration has many pressing and difficult budget matters to negotiate with Albany, it will be reluctant to oppose the governor on Javits.

Everyone should understand the consequences of allowing the sale of the expansion parcels.

When future business and government leaders realize the importance of a larger convention center, their only option will be to put up a new facility at a cost that is certain to be many billions of dollars, probably in a place like Sunnyside, Queens. The expense and risks of building such a center outside of Manhattan will be so great that any effort will most likely fail.

Failure to stop the governor's plan will hurt the city's economy for decades to come.

Copyright Crain's New York Business 2008

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