Governor's Proposed Convention Center May Fall Flat, Skeptics Say
Some key stakeholders sounded off Thursday as the debate heats up over Governor Cuomo's proposal to build the country's largest convention center in Queens. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to build a massive convention center in Queens and dismantle the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan has been met with a lot of skepticism.
There are concerns over the true cost of the project, its proposed location at Aqueduct Racetrack, and whether at the end of the day it can be successful at all.
"If this model doesn't work in Queens and the convention center business goes away, you are talking about billions of dollars of economic benefits that come into the city that could be lost for good," said Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association President Mark Schienberg.
Cuomo says private money will cover the cost of the $4 billion project. But at a forum on the issue - hosted by Crain's New York Business - some disputed the notion that the project will somehow be cost-free.
"It isn't free. There will be significant costs and everybody is working very hard not to confront them," said Greg David of Crain's Business New York.
Christian Goode, a top executive from Genting - the Malaysian company hoping to build the convention center - defended the project. He made it clear he thought the Javits Center and new convention center in Queens could co-exist.
He says his hope is to lure new business to the city that would require a much larger convention center and one with a more flexible calendar.
"We think that there's an untapped show market that doesn't come to New York because, A, lack of dates; B, the facility doesn't set up for their benefits. It goes up, it's not flat. There are myriad reasons why they may or ay not come here," Goode noted.
People who put on trade shows at the Javits have long complained about its small size - not to mention its leaky roof.
For all its faults, some people are not ready to give up on the Javits Center, in large part because of its Manhattan location. Skeptics are not convinced a convention center in Queens will have the same draw.
"Born and raised in Queens, it's a great borough and has great opportunities. But it doesn't have the infrastructure. It doesn't have the things that get people excited," Schienberg said.
As Governor Cuomo is discovering, getting people excited about a new convention center in Queens may take some time.