Not content with merely transforming Penn Station's sad fast food prison full of Long Islanders to a place with, well, sunlight, Governor Cuomo unveiled a $1.5 billion expansion plan that plans to turn the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center into a "premier venue for the next generation." Which sounds lovely, but didn't he just try to knock it down?
Cuomo's plan calls for a 1.2 million square foot expansion of the 30-year-old convention center, adding more meeting space and installing the largest ballroom in the Northeast. Plans would include demolishing Javits North, a new-ish pavilion expansion on 39th Street, creating a green roof terrace that could hold 2,500 people, and increasing the number of trucks that can deliver to and park at the convention center without mucking up pedestrian safety.
"Javits is the busiest convention center in the country right now. So when you walk around and see people looking a little tired, that is why," Cuomo said yesterday. "But, like anything else it is a competitive industry. More convention centers are coming online and if you want to remain competitive you have to grow and you have to increase to stay ahead of the competition and that is just what we want to do with this plan."
It does seem like the Javits Center, once described by the dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture as "such an awful building that the only reason to keep it would be as a monument to stupidity," could use a little upgrade, but it did actually just get one—from 2010 to 2013, the convention center underwent a $400 million expansion and renovation, which included the addition of Javits North. Well, it had a few good years, anyway.
Plus, back in 2012 Cuomo actually wanted to demolish the Javits Center in favor of building a convention Center in Jamaica, Queens, but that plan fell through and it appears Comic Con will stay out of New York's hottest neighborhood for good. Perhaps Cuomo heard that de Blasio hates it, and now it's his favorite toy? Who knows.
It's also noteworthy that some experts say convention centers, which generate revenue from convention and trade show attendees who book hotels, shop, and eat out in the cities that host them, are generally a waste of taxpayer money, and that trade show and convention attendance has been dropping steadily over the years. “You’re competing in an incredibly overbuilt environment where cities are giving away their space for free,” Heywood T. Sanders, a public administration professor at UT San Antonio, told the Times. “It’s almost impossible to get ahead.”
So far, Cuomo's been pushing for some pretty big ticket infrastructure overhauls, which is confusing because it's not even an election year! Still, the idea of having to suffer through even more construction by Hudson Yards seems unpleasant, considering it's hard enough to find the Bolt Bus stop by the 7 train extension.
If they're going to spend a billion dollars expanding Javits Center, the least they could do is add bathrooms for people waiting for the bus
— Rebecca Baird-Remba (@thecitywanderer) January 8, 2016