Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Andrew Cuomo

First Impressions of the Cuomo Convention Center Plan

While congratulating Andrew Cuomo on his first-year achievements, Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute thinks yesterday's State of the State address was pretty weak. In her Post column, Gelinas derides two of Cuomo's signature economic initiatives -- conventions and casinos -- as strikingly out of touch.

On the governor's plan to develop the largest convention center in the country in Queens, Gelinas writes:

Since the 1990s, state and local governments desperate for stimulus have spent tens of billions on convention space with little to show for it. States and cities were spending $2.4 billion a year, even as "the overall convention marketplace is declining," Brookings Institution expert Heywood Sanders noted in 2005. A decade ago, 126 million people went to conventions; last year, it was 86 million.

Cuomo says he wants our convention center to be bigger than Chicago’s? Hah: The Windy City’s center draws just half of the business it could handle, my colleague Steven Malanga has found.

Bizarrely, Cuomo wants to shut the Javits Center and build the space in Queens. No, Javits has never succeeded, but do doctors who want to let their hair down for a weekend want to go to Queens -- or to Las Vegas or New Orleans? Those latter cities are good at conventions, and offer warm weather and location that New York won’t. Plus, they’re cheap.

If the convention industry itself is experiencing a long-term downswing, it's hard to see how a brand new multi-billion dollar mega-convention center would be much of a boon for business.

While it's disappointing to see Cuomo tout a glitzy mega-project as economic development while ignoring bread-and-butter issues like subway and bus service (also noted by Gelinas), Streetsblog readers have pointed out one potential upside: Redeveloping the Aqueduct site in Ozone Park could spur reactivation of the LIRR's defunct Rockaway Branch.

Then there is the issue of the existing Javits Center site. This morning the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association issued a press release [PDF] praising the Cuomo plan to relocate Javits "after years of community advocacy to restore access to the Hudson River by re-opening five streets (W. 35th to W. 39th) closed since 1986." In addition, if the state sells the Javits site and invests billions in proceeds in transit infrastructure, the deal could work out to the city's advantage.

It's a lot to consider. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Friday’s Headlines: Hochul’s Fantasy World Edition

The governor has gone off the deep end. Plus other news.

July 19, 2024

Speaker Adams: Council May Not Use its ‘Sammy’s Law’ Power to Lower Speed Limits

The Council may not lower the speed limit, even though it fought so hard to get that very right from the state legislature.

July 19, 2024

Parks Dept. Has Money But No Timeline to Finish Eastern Queens Greenway

There's tens of millions of dollars for the greenway, so when will parks build it?

July 19, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines: Paris is a Lot Cooler than NYC Edition

The City of Light has figured out how to reduce the heat island effect. Plus other news in today's daily digest.

July 18, 2024

Exclusive: Legal Team Announced for Suit Against Hochul’s Congestion Pricing ‘Pause’

Attorneys from three firms have inked a joint defense agreement to fight "the governor’s illegal decision to cancel congestion pricing," Comptroller Brad Lander said.

July 17, 2024
See all posts