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The Queens is Dead
I’m shocked, as Captain Renault in Casablanca would say. Shocked.
Shocked that the State of New York and Hizoner Governor Cuomo has pulled back from his grandiose plan to build a convention center in Queens to replace Javits.
It was with all due pomp and circumstance that Cuomo announced the plans for the center just a few short months ago. It would combine a gambling casino and a monster convention center on the site of the current Aqueduct Race Track, which, as they say, is not quite at the end of New York City…but you can see it from there.
Once built, the facility would replace the just-being-completed renovated Javits, which would be torn down and replaced by yet more luxury condos, high-rise office buildings and conspicuous consumption retailing of some sort.
All of this is of interest to the gift and home industry because this new center would become the de facto site of the New York International Gift Fair, as well as other events like stationery that the industry attends.
Mind you, there was no great ground swell for schlepping out to Queens on the subway and then schlepping back into Manhattan at the end of the day which is where your hotel room, dinner reservations and perhaps show tickets were waiting for you. True, the Queens site was closer to Coney Island but somehow that wasn’t going to be quite enough to warrant the trip.
In the annuls of New York City and State real estate/political/money circles this whole Queens thing will just be another blip, forgotten nearly as quickly as it surfaced.
Which takes us back to Javits. The roof is being repaired and won’t leak. New entrances are being built that will actually make it easier to find the way into the building. And under new management there’s a sense that addressing the needs of show organizers, exhibitors and attendees will become every bit as important as satisfying upstate politicians, union officials and trucking companies. There’s even going to be a subway stop across the street (although it appears there will be no direct underground entry into Javits, which seems to be a mindboggling omission…but that’s another story.)
And it takes us back to a Javits that remains too small. If all the energy on the Queens fiasco had been extended to expanding Javits with more exhibition and meeting space maybe the solution would be well on its way rather than just another vague image out there somewhere.
It’s time to round up the usual suspects and get them back to focusing on the real world in which the rest of us live in.