Where to put a Convention Center?
There has been no shortage of news in the last couple of days regarding Governor Cuomo's failed bid to locate a casino and convention center at Aqueduct.  The Full Story below covers some of the details in case you missed it.
The selection of Aqueduct seemed odd from the start.  A facility ostensibly planned for a non NYC user base, it clearly suffered on three basic rules of real estate- location, location and location.  Although the coming days are likely to bring many further stories in the press about just how this location came to be (it's the other rule of real estate- money), the bigger question is where will it now be located.
Bob Knakal has suggested Governors Island (3rd & 4th paragraph).  A pie in the sky idea that would clearly redevelop an underutilized section of NYC, it unfortunately suffers from the need for 'a bridge or year round ferry service' and some heavy lifting of deed restrictions.  Even Bloomberg's recent announcement of a $260M investment in Governor's Island wouldn't scratch the surface of required transportation infrastructure to start locating a serious hotel/convention center on the island.
Today brings news of up to seven casinos scattered through the state as part of the state constitutional amendment required that would permit Vegas style gambling and create a programmatic pairing for the NYC located convention center.  Clearly, sprinkling seven casinos in locations as diverse as the Catskills, Belmont Racetrack, Manhattan and the vaguely define 'Western New York' are blatant carrots being dangled infront of voters in the form of regional investment to ease the debate around cost and location of a convention center.  Blatant and cynical actually.  Studies have shown that construction of a casino alone does little to spur local development without well considered planning and integration of the casino footprint and function with the surrounding neighborhood (pages 153 onwards).
At Cubed Advisory, we have said it before and we will say it again....
A casino/convention center/ hotel should be located at Coney Island- period.  The proximate subway with an express train to Times Square for the tourists obviate the necessity of bridges across the harbor or dedicated ferry service.  This alone saves hundreds of millions in transportation rethinks.  The zoning that has already been put in place favoring large scale development.  This means that consideration has already been given to the form of the area and how it can support convention/casino/hotel complexes.  Years of further study and the associated cost wouldn't be required.  Even the regional neighborhood unscientifically supports it.  The beach, the amusements and the aquarium all create destination points in the area that are outside the possible main development, creating the foot traffic that would spur further smaller scale development between urban attractors.
With fundamentals like this in place, why is it even a discussion? Oh, right.
Joe Sitt... the Governor's palm is waiting to be greased.

Full Story

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Uh, not so fast. There would need to be significantly more infrastructure improvement than an "express train" for this to work. Like it or not, public transportation cannot entirely cover the increase in volume...the Belt Parkway would have to be fully upgraded (and expanded to 4 lanes in each direction) to Expressway status between the Verazano to Kennedy airport. Possibly, ferry service could mitigate some of the demand, but conventions require heavy truck traffic.

Blogger Geoff Ross said...
True... but there are going to need to be surface transport upgrades around any new facility. It is simply a matter of the long, arduous, uphill climb required to establish such a facility is a little shorter and a little less steep at CI.

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