When I first heard New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo discussing the plan to build the country’s largest convention center complex in Queens and to redevelop the existing Javits Center footprint on Manhattan’s West Side, I admit, I was a bit perplexed. I asked myself, “Why on earth would business travelers and conventioneers want to give up the excitement of Manhattan for one of the outer boroughs?” I’ve been attending conferences for years—decades, actually—and any trip to New York usually means Midtown Manhattan. That’s the draw.
I was prepared to respectfully disagree with the Governor and supporters of the plan at first glance. But then I did a little reading up and realized that there might be more to this than I originally thought. So, I’ll have to—and forgive the egregious sports metaphor—punt my opinion and play for the fourth quarter before forming a firm opinion. That is, until I can be further educated on this subject. That’s why I want you to educate me. As always, I’d be happy to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of this plan with anyone. Just shoot me a response to this post.
For now, I’ll offer a little background of the proposal, as we know it. According to the New York Daily News, the development plan is the brainchild of Genting New York, which won the right to operate a casino at Aqueduct Race Track and now wants to pick up an option for expansion of its business. The newspaper reported that Genting New York is proposing a development that includes a 3.8-million-square-foot convention center, a 3,000-room hotel, and other attractions.
The plan would send convention business to Queens, so the question I have is, what effect would this have on hotels in Midtown and Downtown New York? Views differ, of course. Manhattan has seen a surge in the number of rooms available and, yes, a means of filling those rooms is needed. It seems likely that even though conventions and conferences would be held outside of Manhattan, many conference-goers would still choose to stay in Midtown and commute. But the biggest question I would have would be: Would making an outer borough the home of conventions in New York—regardless of the size and modern state of the convention center—help or hurt the city in competing for conference business? And, ultimately, how would hotel business in the city be affected?
As I said earlier, I’m firmly in the undecided camp at this point, as I’m sure many of you are as well. But, it’s certainly a discussion worth having.