Charles Bagli writes in the Times today that Governor Spitzer’s decision to curtail Javits expansion and sell off two adjacent parcels of land is raising some hackles among others in the West Side Development arena. Among the opponents are Senator Schumer and Speaker Quinn. One of the parcels is the 33/34 block, just north of the Western Rail Yards, where the High Line comes down to grade.
The Javits Development Corporation, which is deeply divided, will meet on March 5. The questions about the future of Javits are rooted in a debate about the value of conventions to the city’s economy.
Although convention centers often lose money, proponents argue that the spending of tens of thousands of visitors on hotels, restaurants, bars, museums and Broadway shows more than makes up the difference.
Some economists contend that cities across the country that have built new centers or expanded existing ones during a decade-long boom have created a national glut of exhibit and meeting space.
“The reality is that the convention and trade show market is a buyer’s market,” said Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the author of a 2005 Brookings Institution report on the convention industry. “Cities that have expanded like Atlanta and Orlando quite often find that they’ve gotten no new business in the wake of those expansions.”
New York may be a more attractive destination than Orlando, Cleveland or Sacramento, but, critics say, it will never compete with convention cities where hotel rooms are cheaper and more plentiful. Land is too expensive in New York to justify the costs of a big horizontal conventional hall.
The long and short of this is that the Javits expansion, like most of the massive West Side developments, is going to be a hard-fought process.