Don’t Demolish the Javits Center

Governor Cuomo’s proposal to replace the Javits Center with a new convention center in Ozone Park, Queens is a huge mistake which will damage the hotel business in New York:

  1. the Javits Center is in the midst of a $463 million renovation that has already improved the 26-year-old building significantly.
  2. the Javits Center is one of the most successful trade show facilities in the United States with a better-than 70% occupancy rate.
  3. the Javits Center is a self-supporting operation that does not receive state subsidies.
  4. many of the New York City’s record-breaking 50.5 million visitors in 2011 attended conventions and exhibits at the Javits Center.  Its Manhattan location was perhaps its greatest attraction.

A column in the New York Times on February 8, 2012 by architectural critic Michael Kimmelman jumped on the bandwagon in order to build a better Penn Station.  Kimmelman proposes:

  1. the destruction of the Javits Center
  2.  the destruction of Madison Square Garden
  3. construction of a new Madison Square Garden at the southern end of the Javits site at  34th Street and 11th Avenue          
  4. construction of a new Penn Station in the space now occupied by Madison Square Garden 

No amount of windy rhetoric by Kimmelman can justify his wrong-headed and destructive recommendations.  The upheaval that would be caused by these recommendations would be catastrophic to the city’s economy.  West Side traffic would be impassable for a decade or more. Kimmelman’s argument that to move the Garden now is about looking ahead to a booming new West Side.” and “a light-filled Penn Station, a monument to the city’s best self and biggest dreams, should become its gateway” is so impractical as to become a caricature.

Instead, here is a far more realistic series of well-thought out steps:

  • Do not demolish the Javits Center
  • Do not move Madison Square Garden
  • Improve the new Moynihan Penn Station when it moves across Eighth Avenue into the James A. Farley Post Office to include New Jersey Transit with Amtrak.
  • Renovate and expand the Long Island Railroad facilities in its present location.

Will we ever rebuild the iconic Penn Station designed by Charles Follen McKim? No. Perhaps the greatest legacy of that destructive act was the creation of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Law in 1965 which has saved more than 12000 buildings.

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