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NEW YORK CITY-”Location, location, location,” is often quoted as real estate market players’ mantra, but for the proposed Hudson Yards development to succeed “transportation, transportation, transportation” will be the new buzz phrase, at least according to David R. Greenbaum, president of Vornado Realty Trust. He also said that the city should move away from instituting incentive programs that make the playing field uneven for the private sector.

“This is one of the most complex issues facing the city today,” Greenbaum said as part of a presentation titled: “Midtown-West: Manhattan’s Future,” at The Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute, Baruch College, City University of New York. “Allow the private sector to operate without incentive programs.”

Vishaan Chakrabarti, AIA, director of the Manhattan office of the New York Department of City Planning, outlined the city’s 40-year plan for the Hudson Yards area that 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. A proposal is also in place for a multi-use facility that will include a retractable-roof sports and convention center that could hold as many as 111 events each year and complement a refurbished Javits Center. That property would also serve as the home stadium for the New York Jets.

According to city 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, that would be 111 million sf demand for office space. Chakrabarti said the city anticipates 40 million sf zoned for commercial use and 12 million zoned for residential. In a previous presentation reported on by GlobeSt.com, he had said those amounts would be 36 million for commercial space and 10 million for residential.

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. Greenbaum says that’s not good enough and calls for a loop to connect the line with Penn Station.

“The city plan doesn’t go far enough,” he said. “People must have the ability to interact. It’s critical to tie back to Penn Station, the busiest transportation rail system in the country. The plan should recognize that the bulk or office workers between 100,000 and 150,000 may be commuting from Long Island or New Jersey.”

Financing the Hudson Yards 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.

John Fisher of the Clinton Special District Coalition is one vocal opponent of the Hudson Yards proposal. “It’s all unrealistic. The numbers don’t add up and there are other projects with higher priority,” he says. “This was just another one of those fanciful forums where they pat each other on the back.”

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