Tag Archives: New York International Convention and Exhibition Center

Could Queens get two convention centers?


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Possession is nine-tenths of the law — a lesson Governor Andrew Cuomo has apparently learned the hard way.

According to published reports, when the governor proposed a plan for the largest convention center in the country next to Resorts World in South Ozone Park, he was under the impression the land belonged to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The property, however, is reportedly owned by New York City and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who may be hesitant to sell due to his plans for a convention center of his own in Willets Point.

The Willets Point convention center is part of a redevelopment of the entire area, which will include retail and entertainment amenities, a hotel, mixed-income housing, public open space and community uses.

The $4 billion project in South Ozone Park, dubbed the New York International Convention and Exhibition Center (NICE), would be financed by Resorts World and encompass 3.8 million-square-feet, including 3,000 hotel rooms.

Repeated attempts to contact Cuomo’s office went unreturned. The mayor’s office declined to comment pending further information.

Bettina Damiani, the project director of Good Jobs New York, a watchdog on the city’s economic development subsidy program, is disappointed the city and state have been unable to collaborate to promote the most productive project.

“Why is the Cuomo administration pushing for a convention center at Aqueduct when the Bloomberg administration has already put so much effort into one at Willets Point?” Damiani asked. “One hand not talking to the other is disappointing.”

Despite the recent rush to construct convention centers, Damiani believes the facilities may not be the best venture for New York.

“History shows convention centers are not a good investment,” she said. “A report by the Brookings Institution showed that attendance to convention centers has been declining across the country since the late 1990s.”

Other Queens leaders believe the borough could benefit from both facilities, with neither diminishing the other.

“The governor’s proposal is exciting, but I don’t think it prevents the one in Willets Point,” said Claire Shulman, president and CEO of the Flushing, Willets Point, Corona Local Development Corporation, which is advocating for the Willets Point project. “The one in Willets Point is a bit more modest of a convention center, which would deal with LaGuardia Airport business. Queens can use both.”

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, echoed Shulman in promoting the distinct benefits each center would offer.

“The Ozone Park convention center is great for the borough,” Friedman said. “It is transformative, and in many ways, will help establish the borough as a tourist destination. It is a huge opportunity to rebuild south Queens area, specifically downtown Jamaica and the Rockaways. For years, Queens has suffered from tourists coming into our airports, taking cabs into Manhattan and not spending any money in the borough, and I think this will change that. The one in Willets Point is a completely different type of convention center. It is for smaller trade shows and exhibitions. The thoughts of convention centers in South Ozone Park and Willets Point are not mutually exclusive – they can support each other.”

Conventional Wisdom: Cuomo pushes for center in Queens


| smosco@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of Resorts World

During his State of the State address on January 4, Governor Andrew Cuomo made many bold pronouncements, but perhaps his most ambitious statement was his proposal for the “nation’s largest convention center in Queens.”

And the governor already has a spot picked out and a developer in mind – Genting America, the company which brought the Resorts World casino to the grounds of the Aqueduct Racino in South Ozone Park, which announced its plans for a convention center in a letter of intent.

Dubbed the New York International Convention and Exhibition Center (NICE), the $4 billion project would be financed by Resorts World and would encompass 3.8 million-square-feet, with the first phase to be completed by November 2014 at the earliest.

The project would also include up to 3,000 hotel rooms, and officials believe, all told, it would bring 10,000 construction jobs, 10,000 permanent jobs and tens of thousands of ancillary jobs throughout the borough.

“I personally think this is a good thing,” said Paul Anteri, a resident from the area surrounding Resorts World. “It’ll bring more revenue to the area. Usually when you develop convention centers, it tends to bring a better type of people to the area. It brings business, jobs, tourism. A convention center means you’re going to need hotels, places for people to stay and eat. It’ll just help raise small businesses.”

While most elected officials are putting their support behind Cuomo, many believe developers must have their ears open to community input.

“I am enthusiastic about the idea of a convention center at the Aqueduct Racetrack site, but I also believe we should proceed forward in a cautious manner,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “I am an advocate for community input on this project and feel most people would want to see plans or drawings for the proposal. Given our current economic situation, I would certainly work toward creating the thousands of jobs and revenue to the city and state the convention center brings.”

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder echoed Addabbo belief that the community must be involved in the planning process.

“The proposal to build the largest convention center in the nation at Aqueduct is an ambitious plan that must be undertaken responsibly and appropriately with real community involvement and participation,” he said.

Representatives from the Queens Chamber of Commerce, which has advocated for a convention center in Queens for almost a decade, added that this project will give the people of Queens what it needs most – jobs.

“This is a great day for the people of Queens County and the Queens Chamber of Commerce,” said Jack Friedman, executive director.

Carol Conslato, the Chamber’s president, who attended the State of the State speech, added, “The Governor’s plan to build a 3.8-million-square-foot facility with 3,000 new hotel rooms at Aqueduct Racetrack is a huge victory for the borough of Queens.”

If you build it, they will come


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Last week’s State of the State address by Governor Andrew Cuomo promised big things for Queens, chief among them building the country’s largest convention center on the former site of the Aqueduct Racino.

The 3.8 million-square-foot convention center would accommodate the nation’s largest events, up to 3,000 hotel rooms and many restaurants, and create new tourism revenues. The project would be a $4 billion investment financed by Resorts World that the governor said is estimated to generate 10,000 construction jobs and 10,000 direct, permanent jobs and thus create new economic activity throughout the state, especially in our own backyards.

The project would be headed by Genting America, the same company that conceived and constructed the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct.

We say bravo to Cuomo, to Genting, the elected officials in support and to the project as a whole.

The New York International Convention and Exhibition Center will put Queens on the map and make us a “destination location.”

The first phase, 2.6 million square feet, is set to be completed at the earliest, in November 2014.

But before that can happen, certain improvements must be in place.

Traffic and road conditions need to be ameliorated on the Belt Parkway and local streets need to be studied and prepared for the additional traffic, including extra parking spaces.

The good news is that Resorts World and the state have already agreed to work alongside the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to help fund and introduce uninterrupted subway service between Midtown Manhattan and the center.

Our borough is bustling and bourgeoning, and a convention center will be the perfect way for Queens to hit the jackpot!

Meanwhile, on the other end of the borough, 13 acres of waterfront property — the single largest building site in the borough — is now for sale in Whitestone.

According to Massey Knakal Realty Services, the site has already been approved for the construction of 52 single-family homes by the City Planning Commission.

The area, according to locals, is one of the most desirable in the borough, with houses selling for $2 million. And the development of the 52 homes, according to one local official, would “set a precedent for future development.”

And in Astoria, the Lincoln Equities Group, a real estate company based in New Jersey, hopes to build seven residential towers, dubbed Hallets Point, a supermarket and a waterfront park along the East River.

This would create roughly 2,200 units of housing. Approximately 1,800 of the units would be market rate, with 400 to 500 – or 20 percent – reserved for affordable housing. The privately-financed project, which is expected to create 1,400 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs, has an estimated cost of over $1 billion.

With all these development projects, it’s clear that Queens is the place to be!