Aqueduct convention center scrapped, Willets Point eyed


| tcullen@queenscourier.com |

convention center

With plans scrapped for the Aqueduct convention center, the focus has now turned to one in Willets Point.

Willets Point might become the new destination for a convention center, after it was announced that plans for one near the Aqueduct Racetrack have fallen through.

Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged Friday, June 1, that talks for what would have been the largest convention center in the country were not working out. Any future plans to discuss building elsewhere will wait until voters decide on new gaming laws in November 2013, said Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

Because the Genting Company – the desired builder of the center – holds the rights to build at Aqueduct, other investors may be called in for alternative sites, should the new gaming laws pass next year, he said.

While directly discussing potential projects with new bidders may not start until then, Friedman said planning for an alternative at Willets Point has already begun.

Willets Point would be the desired alternative, he said, because of its closer train ride to the city and LaGuardia Airport. Currently, the area known as the Iron Triangle is planned for a shopping mall, but Friedman said a convention center would bring more and better jobs.

“We’d like to see that plan modified for a much larger convention center,” he said.