Cuomo proposes spending $1B to make Javits convention center exhibit space 11% bigger

The New York State Convention Center Development Corporation recently released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a designer/builder for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s planned expansion of the Javits Center on Manhattan’s west side. So now there are some specifics on the $1 billion boondoggle, but no real indication of where the public dollars are actually going to come from, beyond that “a State appropriation of $1 billion, bond issuance proceeds, cash on hand, and other sources as required.” It’s nice to have “cash on hand.”

The project would include a new 480,000-square-foot marshaling facility, with 27 loading docks — because what Manhattan most needs are fleets of 18-wheelers hauling stuff on city streets — roof terrace for outdoor events, and 92,000 square feet of new prime exhibit space, together with added meeting room and ballroom space. That amounts to just an 11 percent increase in exhibit space — what a deal for a billion bucks in public dollars!

Gov. Cuomo proclaimed last January that the Javits was the “busiest convention center in the United States,” with more than 2 million visitors annually. The Javits’ annual report shows attendance of 2,056,500 in 2014. But that year Chicago’s McCormick Place saw total attendance of 2.34 million. So “busiest” might be open to some question. And those Javits attendance figures include big public shows like the New York International Auto Show that sees a million attendees itself, almost entirely from the New York metro area.

The real issue with the Javits is dismal attendance at conventions and trade shows, the events that draw out-of-town visitors and fill hotel rooms. In 2000, the Javits drew 1.25 million convention and trade show attendees. For 2014, the total was just 629,500. And those attendees produced just 478,000 hotel room nights — a tiny fraction of the 31.6 million room nights filled in the city in 2014. That may be why the Cuomo administration has yet to produce any kind of market analysis or feasibility study for the expansion: It likely won’t produce any real increase in the Javits’ convention business.

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4 comments on “Cuomo proposes spending $1B to make Javits convention center exhibit space 11% bigger

  1. Is drawing out of town visitors and filling hotel rooms an actual problem in New York?

  2. Scola: My thoughts exactly. NY has always been such a business and tourism draw, I can’t imagine a lot of conventions there because there’s no need to discount hotel rooms, (which convention groups want), since occupancy and rates are already so high. Conventions tend to focus on the markets where there’s a TON of hotel rooms at lower, more negotiable rates, (Vegas, Orlando, and yes, San Diego).

  3. I guess Cuomo thinks an expansion to the Javits Center would create great demand for his useless LaGuardia Airtrain (that will take longer to get to the airport than the options available today).

  4. Hmmmm, or rather brrrrrr… about the “roof terrace” that would realistically be usable for maybe 5 months a year. Ever been on the west side where the bay/river is in sight? October – April there’s a steady chilling wind that
    blows in as far as 10th Ave., rattling windows and freezing toes even where buildings block the winds direct path.
    NY’ers who are famous for ignoring obvious daily life deficiencies ‘cuz they want to be on or near the island would not be cast aside so easily
    by the out-of-towners paying through the nose to be there.
    To types like the son of Mario the pious and the other Albany crooks the phrase “cash on hand” means jacking up the cost of living (additional taxes) for the suckers who can’t leave and most likely will never have their shadow darken yet another NYS boondoggle. Someone “living” in Suffolk will be on the hook for a new NFL palace in Buffalo as those in Saranac Lake would be for this latest attempt to apply lipstick to the aging pig on the far west side.
    Ironic that it took 2 Albany crooks – Joe Bruno & Shelly Silver (to paraphrase George Steingrabber – “One’s a born liar, the other’s convicted.”) to put down yet another potential far west side monument – the King Bloomie boondoggle – for personal gratification and political enrichment.
    Thank you for the last paragraph that shows the stark numbers that should have NYS residents bombarding the Albany crooks about this –
    although history has shown that it rarely makes a difference.

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