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NEW YORK CITY-The head of the New York Building Congress tells GlobeSt.com he’s optimistic that the long-planned, much-debated renovation and expansion of the Jacob J. Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s West Side will at last move forward. Gov. David Paterson announced on Thursday that construction on the site would begin immediately, following the state Public Authorities Control Board’s approval of $463 million in financing for the project.

“They’ve been going through all these steps in very deliberate fashion, so I’m confident that the work will proceed,” says Richard Anderson, president of the Building Congress. For the city’s construction industry, the Javits Center project is expected to generate approximately 9,000 direct and indirect jobs, according to the PACB.

What it doesn’t provide, in Anderson’s view, is evidence of forward momentum on other large-scale infrastructure projects that have been stalled at the starting gate, such as Moynihan Station. “This project is proceeding apart from any other project,” he says. “It’s had a life of its own for more than a decade.” He adds, “While it’s encouraging that significant work is under way, it’s nothing like what was originally contemplated.”

A plan to expand the convention center’s exhibit space by about 45% was scrapped in early 2008 by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who said he “couldn’t rationalize” the expense. Spitzer told a Building Congress audience that costs for the expansion had ballooned from the projected $1.7 billion to $5 billion. The scaled-down plan that was approved by the Empire State Development Corp. in March, and by the PACB last week, calls for a 100,000-square-foot addition, including 40,000 square feet of new exhibit space–about 5% of the center’s current exhibit capacity.

The larger share of the project, Anderson says, will be the $391-million renovation of the existing structure, which dates from 1986. In particular, the center’s roof, which reportedly leaks during rainstorms, is in line for a full replacement. Other renovations will include replacement or refurbishment of the exterior glass curtain wall, replacement of exterior doors and improvement of building systems.

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