Volume 17 • Issue 8 / July 16 - 22, 2004

Assembly tries to separate stadium from Javits plan

By Albert Amateau

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver sponsored legislation this week authorizing financing for the expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center but eliminating any reference to the stadium proposed (for a platform) over the rail yards south of the Javits.

The Assembly bill is an alternative to one proposed by Governor Pataki at the end of last month that would have authorized funding for the convention center plus partial funding for the 75,000-seat stadium, officially called the New York Sports and Convention Center.

The Assembly bill also eliminates a provision in the governor’s proposal to use $350 million in excess funds generated in the future by Battery Park City to back bonds for the convention center expansion.

In a July 12 announcement of the legislation, Silver said that he would insist on a city Uniform Land Use Review Procedure for both the Javits expansion and for the stadium when it finally comes up for approval.

“I’m delighted that Speaker Silver stated that there will be no state funding for a stadium without public input and a ULURP review of that project,” said Assemblymember Richard Gottfried. “Governor Pataki tried to tie the proposed Jets Stadium to Javits expansion and the Assembly has said no. I only hope the [state] Senate agrees with us.”

Gottfried and fellow Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Scott Stringer and Richard Brodsky held a hearing at the end of last month at which Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and Empire State Development Corp. counsel Anita Laremont supported Javits expansion legislation that the Assemblymembers said was riddled with loopholes big enough for a stadium.

Doctoroff insisted at the hearing that the state could build and finance the stadium without any review at all. The state-sponsored legislation, however, would authorize the convention center to use the stadium. Doctoroff and other advocates for the stadium say it would be the New York Jets football arena for no more than 17 days a year, mostly on Sundays, and would serve Convention Center exhibitions and events on 300 days a year.

But Brodsky, chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, said in a letter this week, “The governor must stop holding Javits hostage to a controversial football stadium. Moving Javits forward is a crucial and immediate need.”

Contrary to the governor’s proposal, the Assembly bill requires financial oversight of the Javits expansion by the state comptroller and approval by the state Public Authorities Control Board. The Assembly bill also provides opportunities for minority and women owned businesses to participate in the expansion. The participation of a Community Advisory Committee is another feature of the new assembly bill.

“Community review and input on development and planning issues have always been vitally important to the Assembly,” said Silver in a prepared statement. “We would expect no less of this type of open and public process for projects of this magnitude,” he added.

Gottfried, whose district includes the site of the proposed stadium, said “Making Javits and the stadium subject to ULURP is a major victory for Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea. State public authorities like the Empire State Development Corporation and the Convention Center Development Corporation usually get to override community concerns.”

While the opposition to the proposed 75,000-seat stadium over the West Side rail yards gained momentum, the New York Jets last week mounted their own offensive with full-page ads in some newspapers, listing about 200 leaders of business, labor and the professions who support the New York Sports and Convention Center. The headline on the ad said, “People who know New York know New York needs the Sports and Convention Center.”

The ad has about 200 names, some of them with ties to Lower Manhattan. The list includes David Caputo, president of Pace University; John Zucotti, chairperson of Brookfield Properties Corp., owners of the World Financial Center; Roland Betts, a member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. board and the co-founder of Chelsea Piers; Tom Bernstein, co-founder of Chelsea Piers and the Freedom Center, which was selected for the World Trade Center site; Daniel Libeskind, W.T.C. site plan architect; Kathryn Wylde, president of Partnership for New York City; William Rudin, chairperson of Association for a Better New York; and Drew Nieporent, president of Myriad Restaurant Group, which owns several Tribeca eateries including Nobu and Tribeca Grill.


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