NEW YORK CITY-Years ago, Grand Central Station was transformed into a bustling vital area of Manhattan surrounded by some of the highest property values. That’s what New York City government officials expect will happen in the Hudson Yards area over the next 40 years. A director from the New York Department of City Planning and the president of the New York Jets detailed plans for the locale including a retractable-roof sports and convention center that could hold as many as 111 events each year and complement a refurbished Jacob Javits Convention Center.

“This is the greatest opportunity the city has, the region has, to secure its future by transforming this into a thriving area,” said Vishaan Chakrabarti, AIA, director of the Manhattan office of the New York Department of City Planning.

“We’re not being too ambitious. We plan for an animated waterfront,” said L. Jay Cross, president of the New York Jets, LLC, about the proposed New York Sports and Convention Center. “We’ll take our inspiration from the river and set a high standard. It will be multi-layered and exoskeletal. It will be crispy, but kind of gritty.”

The pair addressed the Metropolitan New York Chapter of the Appraisal Institute Joint Region IV and V Symposium Friday.

The Hudson Yards planning area extends from West 28th St. on the south, Eighth Ave. on the east, West 42nd St. on the north, and the Hudson River on the west. A preliminary study designated six distinct areas within those borders, allowing for commercial use, open space and a potential expansion of the Jacob Javits Convention Center. According to estimates, by 2025, there could be as many as 443,450 jobs brought to that area of the city. Estimating 250 sf of space needed for each employee, there would be an 111 million sf demand for office space, Chakrabarti noted.

Current liabilities include isolation from public transportation, few public amenities or significant greenspace. However, it is a strategic location adjacent to Midtown Manhattan, has much developable land and a proximity to the water.

“It’s a major problem for the region,” Chakrabarti said of the transportation situation. Key elements of the plan call for the expansion of the #7 subway line with major stops at 34th St. and 11th Ave. and 41st St. and 10th Ave. Plans for open space for parks and recreation will both add to the health and well-being of the residents and create value, character and identity, he added. Chakrabarti also noted that the plan envisions 10th and 11th avenues between 33rd and 42nd streets as this century’s Park Ave.

“Over the 40-year span, there will be 36 million sf zoned for commercial use and 10 million zoned for residential; a significant amount will be for affordable housing,” he added.

Chakrabarti commented that the Javits Center in its current state is 18th in North America with 814,000 sf of exhibition space, compared with Rosemont, IL at 846,000 sf. The plan would expand it to rival centers in places such as Chicago that have two million sf of exhibition space. Spillover space will be available in the multiuse sports and convention center.

Financing the project is the next piece up for discussion. According to the original study, it is designed to pay for itself. It anticipates that infrastructure improvements will be financed and built as redevelopment proceeds and proposes financing mechanisms, including a system of tax-based initiatives and zoning bonuses whereby the value of new development would fund infrastructure investments, without competing for funding with existing public capital agency programs.

Plans for the New York Sports and Convention Center, a possible future home for the football team, would complement plans for the Javits Center. Cross addressed controversial aspects of the proposal including what he labeled people’s “preconceived notions” that a stadium is incompatible with an urban setting and would bring traffic nightmares.

He outlined results from surveys of New York Jet season ticket holders which predicted 70% would take mass transit if the Jets played in Manhattan, a figure comparable to Madison Square Garden attendance. He said the other 30% represent approximately 7,000 cars and that many go through Manhattan to get to the Meadowlands now. The variety of transportation in the Metropolitan area also makes it an interesting prospect, he pointed out.

“We have nine modes of transportation to the site. There’s no site like that in the world.”

Financing for the center will come from public and private sources. The public aspect includes constructing the deck platform over the yards and the expansion of the #7 subway line. Private investors in the center site itself would include the New York Jets, NYC 2012 and the National Football League, among others.

Currently, because the Jets are a New Jersey-based business, the benefit of $50 million in ticket revenue, parking fees and taxes on player’s salaries goes to that state. “Those figures alone would have a net impact for New York City.” He also predicted the venue would have 111 events over 200 event days, bring an estimated $80 million per year into the city as well as 6,700 permanent jobs. He noted that if large events such as the Olympics and the Super Bowl were held there, the job numbers would swell by at least an additional 2,000. “Multiple uses means multiple audiences,” Cross commented.

Environmental aspects of the center call for it to be the first zero carbon building of any substance. Solar panels, wind turbines, rainwater capture and a water filtration system are additional parts of the plan.

Going forward, plans scheduled for 2007 through 2012 call for Javits Center expansion and completion of the #7 line expansion and the sports and convention center. A private sector buildout would continue through 2040. Chakrabarti noted that plans for the Hudson Yards are not “in competition” with the revitalization of lower Manhattan and that the plans are not contingent on New York hosting the 2012 Olympics.

The Appraisal Institute is an international membership association of professional real estate appraisers with more than 18,000 members and 99 chapters throughout the US, Canada and abroad.

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