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Who Had the Better Week—Cuomo or Christie?

Friday, June 08, 2012

Cuomo loses a casino, and Christie helps Scott Walker win an election.

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WNYC News

Demolishing Javits Would Mean Disrupting a $1B Economy

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed allowing a private developer to build the nation’s largest convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. In turn, the state would tear down the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s West Side. But Javits has become the anchor of a nearly $1 billion economy fuelled by convention-goers who don’t necessarily want to convene in Queens.

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Transportation Nation

NY Gov Cuomo: MTA Considering "Additional Transit Applications" For New Convention Center

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

NY Governor Cuomo

Governor Cuomo briefly addressed the issue of mass transit out to his new favorite project, a massive convention center by near JFK Airport in Queens to be built by the Malaysian firm Genting, which is already operating a racino there. Speaking Wednesday in Yonkers, he didn't say much--but let it drop that the MTA "is working on additional transit applications" to the site.

No word yet from the MTA on what that might be. Transit advocates have expressed concern about the cost of such a project for an essentially broke agency -- and about the inconvenience to regular riders if, say, an express service gets prioritized. In a brief statement earlier this month, Genting said it would pay for transit, but didn't offer details.

Here's the transcript:

Reporter: Are you concerned about the transit extension for the convention center? Is there going to be enough service and is that going to be a problem?

Cuomo: The convention center would be where Aqueduct Racetrack is now, it’s very close to JFK airport,  so it’s a place that is accessible and can be more accessible.

The reason I’m excited about it is it is a $4 billion private investment.  It costs the taxpayers of this state nothing. Government doesn’t build.  I don’t have to touch a shovel.

It would built by a private company, it’s financed by a private company, the state grants the company more racino rights. They would expand a racino, they would also build a convention center. We need the convention center.

It would be roughly three and a half times the size of the Javits Center currently and it would allow us to reuse the Javits center on the West Side because we wouldn’t now need the Javits as the convention center any longer. From my point of view it’s a win-win.

And at a time when government doesn’t have any money but wants to generate jobs, it’s a perfect solution.

Reporter: It’s not in any easy spot to get to by mass transit.

Cuomo: The MTA is working on additional transit applications.

Reporter: Are you optimistic they will reach a deal with the TW?

Cuomo: I’m leaving that up to the TWU and Joe Lhota.  I am optimistic Joe Lhota is the right man to handle the situation.

 

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Transportation Nation

NY Gov Cuomo to NY Pols: I Don't Have To Ask Your Permission To Build the Convention Center, But Let's Work Together

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just sent a letter to state political leaders urging cooperation for his convention center plan, which he wants to build in Queens. The convention center -- with its proposed express subway link --  featured prominently in his State of the State address.

"While I may have the legal authority to proceed unilaterally," he writes, "I choose to only proceed in full public view and with support of the legislature in a spirit of cooperation."

Cuomo also said: "Transportation to the site is an issue that needs to be addressed and we have been discussing the feasibility of MTA service from Manhattan to Aqueduct, with Genting paying the cost of such service." (our italics)

The full text of the letter is below.

GOVERNOR CUOMO SENDS LETTER TO LEGISLATIVE LEADERS REGARDING PROPOSAL TO BUILD THE CONVENTION CENTER AT AQUEDUCT

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver regarding the proposal to build the convention center complex at the Aqueduct site.
The letter is below:

Dear Majority Leader Skelos and Speaker Silver:

In my State of the State message last week, I spoke about a comprehensive program to foster economic development across the state. As the state’s resources are limited, our task will be to leverage private sector activity without significant funding from the state; no small challenge. Two projects I discussed were development of a convention center complex at the Aqueduct site in Southeastern Queens and the redevelopment of the Javits Center. As you will recall Genting New York LLC was granted in September 2010, the only franchise in New York City to operate a video lottery terminal (VLT) facility under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct. Genting has proceeded with the project, which from all perspectives, has gone exceedingly well.

In the past selection of gaming operators, race track issues, VLT designations have raised serious ethical and legal issues for the state. To be sure, the state’s current gaming arrangements are varied and controversial. I look forward to the opportunity to bring a logic and strategy to gaming operations in the state over the next two years through development of casino legislation and regulations.

In the interim, any transaction that the state makes with Genting or any modifications to the current state agreement will be submitted to the legislature for full review and action before becoming binding. Given the past history, while I may have the legal authority to proceed unilaterally, I choose to only proceed in full public view and with support of the legislature in a spirit of cooperation.

Genting has proposed further development of the site which includes the creation of a destination location of international potential. The destination location will include gaming, hotel rooms, entertainment, exhibition and convention center facilities. The economic impact of the project would be enormous, estimated to create thousands of construction and private sector jobs. The state investment would be minimal with potentially the greatest number of jobs produced in the state in many, many years. As you know, in each of the VLT racinos across the state, the state has, through legislation, negotiated a revenue sharing agreement and such an agreement would need to be negotiated here. Importantly, the new agreement would be binding only upon the new VLT terminal revenue which would be granted to the Aqueduct facility; while the terms and conditions of our original agreement remain in place. Hence, there is only the possibility of additional revenue for the state as our current revenue stream would be untouched.

While the discussions are preliminary and conceptual, at this point the first phase would include construction of 1,000 hotel rooms, theater and entertainment components, approximately 3 million square feet of convention and exhibition space, expansion of VLT gaming space and a parking facility. Importantly, Genting has the exclusive lease on all the land anticipated to be used in phase one and is the only legislatively approved VLT operator in New York City.

The second phase would require additional land beyond the 67 acres currently under lease to Genting. The Port Authority controls an adjoining 22 acres which Genting is considering for an additional 2,000 hotel rooms and approximately a half million more square feet of convention and meeting space.

Genting is prepared to work with the relevant labor unions and execute a project labor agreement. They will also work with the local communities and local governments on zoning, and meet or exceed all state MWBE requirements.

Transportation to the site is an issue that needs to be addressed and we have been discussing the feasibility of MTA service from Manhattan to Aqueduct, with Genting paying the cost of such service.

There is also an issue as to how this racino expansion at Aqueduct would affect operations at the nearby Belmont race track.

The Aqueduct project is linked to the Javits Center redevelopment as the New York Metropolitan area needs a convention site and if we do not plan to develop one as an alternative to Javits, then Javits would need to continue to operate. As I stated in my State of the State message, the Javits Convention Center is too small to be a competitive exhibition facility, and redevelopment of the current Javits site has exciting possibilities for the West Side of Manhattan and beyond. I also believe the redevelopment of Javits will render significant economic benefit to the State of New York which is essential during these challenging fiscal times.

I will also ask the legislature to consider passing language authorizing a Constitutional Amendment to allow casino gaming in the State of New York. That referendum would be at best two years from now – if ever – and should be considered as a separate issue from these current proposals. We would hope that the Aqueduct project could be finalized within one year on an expedited time frame.

Opponents to the project point out that many conventions centers lose money. That is a true point. Most governments weigh the issue of building a convention center with public money as a “loss leader” for the net economic gain of additional tourism dollars, etc. That is a debatable proposition. However, that is not the case here. The state is not building anything. We are not spending public money on a convention center. Genting, a private entity, will take the risk of economic success. I have never been a casino or racino proponent, but we are here now and the question is how to best maximize the economics and protect our citizens.

As you know, we are working aggressively to attract business investment to New York State. It would be ironic to say the least if New York did not seize an opportunity of this scale when presented with it.

The bottom line is that this is a low risk, high reward business opportunity for the state. The Genting organization already controls the land under phase one and already is the only legislatively approved operator for VLTs in New York City. Our only “cost” is noneconomic: the issuance of additional gaming machines at a preexisting gaming facility. The reward is approximately 10,000 construction jobs, 10,000 permanent jobs and $4 billion investment in the state. This investment would be one of the largest in the state’s history at no cost to the state.

A new convention center also frees the Javits site for redevelopment. I think the merits are clear.

I would appreciate your respective staff’s attention to engage in these conversations on a joint basis to see if they can be brought to fruition.

I also think it would be advisable for us to meet together with Genting officials in the coming weeks to discuss the proposal in person.

Thank you.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

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Transportation Nation

Transit Advocates: Where's the Money for a Direct Train to New Convention Center?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Renderings of new Queens convention center (Courtesy of Arquitectonica)

Transit advocates are expressing doubt over the capacity to run an express subway train from midtown Manhattan to a proposed new convention center in Queens.  Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a non-binding agreement last week to build the world's largest convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack, but details about how conventioneers would get to and from Manhattan are sketchy.

Even though Governor Cuomo just proposed the plan, he's already signed a non-binding agreement with a potential developer, Genting Americas. That's raising questions about just how the plan to develop the site would work, including transportation options.

(Read Ilya Marritz's terrific profile of Genting here. )

In a brief statement issued Thursday, Genting said it and the "state would work alongside the MTA to help fund and introduce uninterrupted subway service between Midtown Manhattan" and the convention site.

But the MTA is already struggling to provide service, and has a multi-billion dollar hole in its capital construction plan.

Governor Cuomo also recently cut the payroll mobility tax, which pays for MTA operations, though he said he will replace those funds.

One idea bandied about was that the MTA would run express trains along the A line. But that idea was tried once before — in the now-defunct "Plane to the Train."  That service was plagued by low ridership, and created hostility by setting up a service that whisked past waiting straphangers on the local platforms.

"If one of their ideas is to create a convention express modeled after the JFK airport express, that's going to be much harder to do than it was in the 1970's and '80's," the Straphangers' Campaign's Gene Russianoff said.

Russianoff noted that many neighborhoods along the A and C lines — including Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Bedford-Stuyvesant — have undergone rapid growth in recent years, and couldn't withstand reductions in service.

But Bob Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association, which is backing the convention plan, thought adding express trains might be possible.

Yaro also said the air train to JFK could be extended to Aqueduct, or the LIRR Rockaway Beach line could be brought back to life. Both plans would cost considerably more.

A spokesman for the MTA, Jeremy Soffin,  issued a statement saying:

"Though we haven’t seen any proposals, we look forward to working with all involved to discuss ways to improve transit access to the site within fiscal and operating constraints.”

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WNYC News

Doubts Expressed On Train to Proposed Convention Center

Sunday, January 08, 2012

WNYC

Transit advocates are expressing doubt over the capacity to run an express subway train from midtown Manhattan to a proposed new convention center in Queens.  Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a non-binding agreement last week to build the world's largest convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack, but details about how conventioneers would get to and from Manhattan are sketchy.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: GM Reinforces Volt Battery, Queens Convention Center Builder Wants Swift Subway Link, Buenos Aires Doubles Subway Fares

Friday, January 06, 2012

Top stories on TN:
Getting Around the Bay in 2012 Just Got Harder and More Expensive (Link)
Now He Can Say It: Walder Calls NY’s Infrastructure “Terrible” (Link)
Filling in the Blanks Of New York’s Infrastructure Plan (Link)

Buenos Aires subway (photo by posterboy2007 via Flickr)

GM is reinforcing the Volt battery with extra steel. (Detroit Free Press)

The company behind a proposal to build a new convention center in Queens said it will work with New York's MTA to fund uninterrupted subway service between Midtown Manhattan and the proposed convention center. (Wall Street Journal)

Buenos Aires is doubling subway fares after Argentina handed control of the system to the city--and decreased subsidies. (Bloomberg News via San Francisco Chronicle)

The feds have given final approval for a $1.7 billion transit line along Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles. (AP via Sacramento Bee)

Freakonomics quorum: can Amtrak ever be profitable? Discuss. (Link)

RadioBoston kicks around solutions to prevent Boston's transit service from being slashed. Two words: congestion pricing. Other ideas: quasi-privatization, automatizing trains, and implementing zone fares. Read the comments section for even more. (WBUR)

NY Senator Charles Schumer wants the commuter tax credit back. (Staten Island Advance)

Yet another rescuer tries to save Seattle's historic Kalakala ferry. But: "It may have looked cool, but it was hard to maneuver and kept running into things." (NPR)

Ron Paul video from 2009: "By subsidizing highways and destroying mass transit, we ended up with this monstrosity."(Streetsblog)

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