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NEW YORK CITY-A $463-million plan to renovate and expand the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was approved Tuesday by the Empire State Development Corp. board of directors. The plan is scaled down considerably from a more ambitious proposal earlier this decade to nearly double the West Side convention center’s exhibition space, which was quashed in early 2008 by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Top priority in the general project plan released by the New York Convention Center Development Corp. is a full roof replacement with a “green” roof. Parts of the 23-year-old convention center’s existing roof are said to leak during especially rainy weather. Other renovations will include replacing the exterior curtain wall to create a translucent façade for the “Crystal Palace,” installing high-efficiency rooftop mechanical units and repairs and upgrading of building systems.

The 100,000-square-foot expansion will contain 40,000 net square feet of exhibition space, down from earlier iterations of the plan that would have expanded the current 790,000 square feet of convention space by 500,000 square feet or more. A headquarters hotel that was part of the $1.7-billion expansion approved by the Public Authorities Control Board in July 2006 is not within the scope of the current plan.

Addressing the New York Building Congress in February ’08, Spitzer said he “couldn’t rationalize” the cost of expanding the Javits Center, which he said had ballooned from the projected $1.7 billion to $5 billion. His successor, David Paterson, declared his support for a scaled-down expansion shortly after taking office. In a statement issued Tuesday, Paterson says “we have taken the realities of the current economic climate into account and made adjustments so that we can move forward.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg–who began lobbying to fast-track the project shortly after the PACB approved it in ’06–says in a statement that this year’s renovation plan “will effectively address the Javits Center’s critical repair needs, and the modest expansion is at least a first step toward meeting the continuing demand for additional convention space. The convention industry represents an enormous opportunity for New York City and our local economy. It was important to move forward with this renovation, and it must be followed by a long-term plan to enhance New York City’s convention business.”

As was the case with the ’06 plan, the PACB must sign off on this year’s. Construction could begin immediately thereafter, according to a release from Paterson’s office. The expansion is expected to be completed in 2010, and the renovation is expected to be completed in 2013. The Javits Center will remain open and fully operational while work is underway, the release states.

Paying for the project has already been taken care of, according to Paterson’s office, as it’s fully funded with proceeds from Hotel Unit Fee-Secure Revenue Bonds issued by the Empire State Development Corp. in 2005. The bond issue was supported by a $1.50 hotel tax imposed for a 40-year period on daily hotel room rentals in the five boroughs of New York City.

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