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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 2:06 AM
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Originally Posted by NYguy View Post
Now, this is something that seems like it may have a chance...

Amtrak weighing development of massive Queens rail yard

By Ryan Hutchins
Oct. 23, 2014

New York’s Next Big Thing

Sunnyside Yards in Queens, which could hold the kind of convention center the city needs.

NOV. 28, 2014

NEW YORK is the most diverse, dynamic city on Earth.

More than 55 million people are projected to visit this year, bringing with them a total economic impact of more than $60 billion and supporting about 350,000 jobs.

We are an undisputed leader in tourism, yet we lag badly in one important aspect: the huge convention and conference business.
Nationwide, conventions add nearly $400 billion to our gross domestic product, and employment in the industry is set to grow 33 percent through 2022. Sadly, New York ranks 64th globally in this business, leaving tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars on the table — resources that could fund better schools, parks and affordable housing.

New York struggles for two main reasons. First, of course, is price. With the average Manhattan hotel room costing nearly $300 per night, we are pricing ourselves out of the market for many major conventions. Then there is the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Located on Manhattan’s Far West Side, Javits was unloved practically from the moment it opened. It’s too small for many events and can’t compete with facilities in other cities.

Fortunately, there’s a solution — one that would not only address our lack of competitiveness in the conventions and conferences business, but would also catalyze the transformation of two neighborhoods and make a meaningful dent in our affordable housing crisis. The best part is that we can do this all without costing taxpayers a dime.

The key is to replace the Javits Center. There’s been talk over the years of expanding it, but that won’t solve the affordability problem. Fortunately, the perfect undeveloped location for a new convention center exists at Sunnyside Yards, the more than 160-acre rail yard that carves a nasty scar through the heart of Queens.

Sunnyside Yards is adjacent to Long Island City, a neighborhood that has blossomed in recent years with new residents and businesses, including nearly 20 new hotels since 2007, with almost as many currently under construction or in the planning stages. The average hotel room rate in Queens is less than half that of Manhattan; a convention center on the border of Long Island City would go a long way toward solving the affordability problem that holds the Javits Center back.

Long Island City is also one of the most convenient, transit-friendly areas in the city, served by eight subway lines. The Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak pass through and park their trains there. Even New Jersey Transit stores its trains in Sunnyside. From my office one block south of Bloomingdale’s in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, I can get to Long Island City by subway in just one stop, and eight minutes flat.

Given the neighborhood’s many advantages, redeveloping Sunnyside Yards seems obvious — but the biggest barrier has always been the multibillion-dollar cost of building a platform over the train tracks that can allow the trains to run while accommodating large construction. The cost has always made the idea a nonstarter, but times — and real estate values — have changed. Stronger market conditions bring us closer to feasibility, but the numbers for building the platform still don’t add up unless we get creative.

That’s why we should relocate the Javits Center to Sunnyside, sell the extremely valuable property the Javits Center owns, and use the proceeds to pay for it.

In addition to a state-of-the-art convention center that would be 3.1 million square feet rather than the 1.8 million at Javits, the platform and adjacent rezoned areas would provide the foundation for a dynamic new neighborhood, accommodating nearly 14,000 new units of housing, of which about 50 percent would be affordable; more than two million square feet of office and retail space; several hotels to support convention visitors; vast expanses of public green space; a job-creating technology campus; and a new transit center. Convention visitors would have convenient places to stay at affordable rates.

One objection might be that a convention center must be in Manhattan to attract blockbuster conferences. Let’s put that old way of thinking aside. The ExCeL exhibition center in London, about five miles from the city’s core, has catalyzed nearly $5 billion in economic impact and supported 31,000 jobs. Sunnyside Yards is far closer to Midtown.

The land under the Javits Center would be rezoned for housing. More than 11,000 units could be developed there, of which 20 percent would be affordable. Between the redevelopments of the Sunnyside and Javits sites, more than 25,000 units of desperately needed housing could be created, of which more than 9,000 would be affordable. That could make a major contribution to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s admirable and ambitious housing plan.

Getting anything done in New York is hard. The bigger it is, the harder it gets. And the Javits to Sunnyside move is very big. Total estimated costs for the platform, the convention center and the related open space and infrastructure would be about $8 billion, according to an analysis done for me by SHoP Architects and HR&A Advisors. But the beauty of this plan is that it can all be financed at no new net cost to taxpayers. The Javits property could be sold for about $4 billion. The incremental real estate tax revenues from the new developments on both the Sunnyside and existing Javits sites would roughly pay for the difference.

Almost all of the land required to make this happen is owned by either the State of New York or by Amtrak. The Amtrak chairman, Anthony R. Coscia, indicated recently that Amtrak was considering the development potential of its holdings in the Sunnyside Yards. Still, it is Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo who controls all of the Javits site and much of the portion of Sunnyside Yards not owned by Amtrak.

Too often in New York, we get stuck in the tired paradigm of choosing between development and affordability. If we plan smartly, development can finance affordable housing, and affordability will attract greater diversity, which makes the city even more appealing to new residents and businesses.

Daniel L. Doctoroff is the chief executive officer of Bloomberg L.P. and chairman of Culture Shed, a cultural institution that will open in 2018. He was New York City’s deputy mayor for economic development.
NEW YORK. World's capital.

“Office buildings are our factories – whether for tech, creative or traditional industries we must continue to grow our modern factories to create new jobs,” said United States Senator Chuck Schumer.
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