Queens Goes Vegas?

January 5, 2012

An Arquitectonica rendering of the proposed Aqueduct convention center and casino.

The proposal floated in Governor [Andrew] Cuomo’s state-of-the-state address yesterday to transplant NYC’s convention center to Queens strikes me, surprisingly, as the first good idea I’ve heard from my state government in a long, long time.  In short, the idea is to let a Malaysian company, the Genting Group, that built the “racino” at Aqueduct, bankroll a new convention center and exhibition hall on government-owned land nearby.  In short:  Queens goes Vegas.

The state could then sell or lease the Javits site to developers eager to participate in the westward expansion of midtown Manhattan. The Javits Center itself would be demolished and  the estimated $4 billion from the site could fund projects such as Moynihan Station.  And — wishful thinking– an upgrade of the A-train which will become the pivotal connector linking Manhattan, the new convention center, and JFK.

Now, I’m not convinced that I would willingly go all the way out to Aqueduct to attend, say, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair.  Although the subway ride out there wouldn’t be anymore arduous than the current cross-town haul to Javits.  And, yes,  it’s totally pathetic that Javits will be going away just as it gets its very own subway stop.   Certainly many observers don’t believe that it’s worth building a new convention center because the convention business is a “disaster.”  But, if that’s truly the case, why should a prime piece of Manhattan waterfront be monopolized by an awful building dedicated to a disastrous business?