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Eight good reasons to oppose the current Javits plan.

Why waste over two billion dollars on the present Empire State Development Corporation's plan that would not meet the objectives of the Javits Center Expansion nor result in a world-class facility?

The following are all major drawbacks of the ESDC's Plan for the expansion of the Javits Convention Center (Javits):

1. The expanded exhibition/convention floors would still not be big enough to be competitive and accommodate the largest events.

2. The plan to add a four-story addition adjoining the existing Javits structure would create a vertical convention center with limited exhibition space. This is impractical. Large events would have to take place on multiple floors. This would have limited market appeal, would not be competitive and would defeat the very purpose of the convention center expansion.

3. The creation of non-contiguous meeting and ballroom facilities across Eleventh Avenue may result in operational dependency upon outsiders.

4. The current timetables for construction are infeasible.

5. The loss of revenue and market during a lengthy reconstruction of the present Javits building: It is unlikely that bookings could be obtained during that time even if construction took place in coordinated stages because event planners would be reluctant to schedule functions in the midst of a construction site.

6. Lack of a truck staging/marshalling area: This would require the future relocation of the MTA from its modern Quill bus depot (occupying the city block bounded by Eleventh to Twelfth Avenues, 40th to 41st Streets) for Convention Center truck staging and marshalling, which would create great relocation, logistical and expense problems for the MTA. Furthermore, its bus ramps are too narrow and steep to accommodate tractor trailers. Nevertheless, Javits will be paying an additional $600 million for this facility and many millions more to modify it. This is above the $2 billion currently estimated cost of the Convention Center expansion.

7. 39th Street would be closed and the proposed four-story addition to Javits would occupy a super block consisting of the balance of the 38th Street block and the city block, 39th to 40th Streets and Eleventh to Twelfth Avenues. Its floor plate would have an odd configuration because of two massive Lincoln Tunnel ventilation towers.

This expansion annex would require the wasteful demolition of the existing building at 460 Twelfth Avenue and its mid-block garage annex. The new facility would have disproportionately large loading, docking, storage, and garage space on each level wasting prime exhibition space. Its narrow and steep ramp and tight turning radius could cause truck breakdowns and jeopardize operations.

8. Direct access to the waterfront park and ferry terminal would be blocked by the closure of 39th Street.

Instead of the present plan, an alternative expansion of the Javits Convention Center on free, publicly owned, immediately available, air rights over Twelfth Avenue could add 250,000 s/f of additional floor space to each of the three existing exhibition levels of Javits (1,000 foot length of Javits x 250 foot Twelfth Ave. and service road width).

Exhibitor loading and docking would be relocated along the far west wall of the new air rights addition which would be of heavy reinforced construction for security reasons. Existing truck ramps from 39th Street would be realigned for access. Additional floors could be added above this air rights addition for conference rooms, ballrooms, restaurants, offices, and other ancillary uses, all with spectacular river views.

The ground level on the Hudson River side could provide restaurants, toilets, and other public facilities for the river park and ferry terminal. 39th Street would remain open for access to the river and ferry terminal.

Furthermore, the existing Javits-owned eight-story, 500,000-s/f building at 460 Twelfth Avenue (39 to 40 Streets) could be utilized and renovated into hotel, conference rooms, ballrooms, offices, and other ancillary needs of Javits.

Its two-story mid-block garage annex (72,000 s/f footprint) has tractor trailer truck ramps to its roof for truck staging and marshalling and additional floors could be added for parking, hotel, ballroom, exhibition, conference or other uses which could be tied into the 460 Twelfth Avenue tower and/or a new building on the Eleventh Avenue frontage.

This alternative is a better, faster and less costly way to expand Javits and would conserve scarce land resources needed for the future growth of midtown Manhattan and for additional municipal revenue resources. Work could be completed in one phase.

The Javits Center could continue operating without interruption or loss of revenue or markets during construction and $600 million would be saved because the MTA's Quill bus garage would not have to be acquired for truck staging and marshalling.

By Harry L. Langer

H. L. Langer & Co. Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Hagedorn Publication
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Author:Langer, Harry L.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 7, 2006
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