New York State lawmakers are considering a bill that would significantly scale back the expansion plans for the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, and meetings industry suppliers and organizers are not too happy about it.
A bill currently making its way through the state legislature would essentially eliminate the second phase of the proposed expansion. If approved, the state, which owns the property, would have the authority to sell off parcels adjacent to the Javits—where the second phase of expansion was planned. The funds would be used to support housing initiatives, transit improvements, and community revitalization efforts. A convention headquarters hotel is still a possibility, but probably not directly across from the Javits as initially proposed, according to published reports.
Further, phase one expansion will also be drastically cut back. The new plan is to renovate the existing facility and add just 100,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space rather than the 500,000 square foot expansion previously put forth. The cost for the new plan would be about $1.6 billion, according to the New York Times. The original project was budgeted to be just slightly higher, $1.8 billion, until state officials realized last summer that the cost would actually be closer to $3 billion due to rising construction costs. With costs expected to be more than $1 billion over initial estimates, the project no longer made sense to state officials, including Governor Eliot Spitzer, who declared the former expansion project “done,” according to a recent article in the New York Post. Just last spring, Spitzer was talking about an even bigger--and more expensive--expansion of the Javits, but the proposal never got off the ground.
Currently, the Javits has 790,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space.
A coalition of show producers, show owners, and meetings industry suppliers is trying to derail the bill that would permit the state to sell off the adjacent parcels. The group, called the Friends of Javits, is feverishly working to petition the legislature to withdraw the bill. Hearings begin February 11th and if approved, the bill would take effect in April.
The Friends of Javits consists of several industry leaders, including Jeff Little, president and CEO of George Little Management Company; John O’Connell, chief operating officer, Freeman Companies; Mark Sheinberg, president, Greater New York Auto Dealers Association; and Ken McAvoy, senior vice president, Reed Exhibitions.
In a “fact sheet” sent to the news media and convention industry stakeholders, the group says the new, scaled-back “expansion” plan is “absurd and a bad business decision.” It makes no sense, they say, to spend $1.8 billion for “lessbusiness.” The cost of expansion and renovation will make it “the highest cost-per-square-foot remodeling project in the history of the world.” It will lead to cost increases for customers that will result in business migrating elsewhere, they believe.
Adds the Friends of Javits: “Selling any land north or south of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center will result in a land lock and no future expansion will ever be possible. A vital component of all international cities is a first-class convention and exhibition center. New York will lose its status as one of the one of the world’s best international market cities if it is unable to expand in the future.”