Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More Unconventional Wisdom

Well it seems as if the Great One's conventional wisdom has proven to be somewhat foolish with the falling apart of the plans for a convention center at Aqueduct-and the folks out there are none too pleased:

"Ozone Park, a spare, working-class neighborhood in southwestern Queens, has long had a reputation as a place people pass through to get somewhere else. Most visitors are heading to or coming from Kennedy International Airport. Recently, hopes were raised of continuing to transform this neglected area into a destination in its own right by building a convention center and casino: a $4 billion project that promised the area money, jobs and a more central spot in New York’s tourist literature."

As it turns out hope is a sign of distress: "But those hopes endured a blow last week when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, the leading proponent of the project, announced that talks with the Malaysian conglomerate expected to pay for and develop the project had broken down. The news, and the reality that even a resurrected development could end up being located elsewhere, provoked a mix of upset reactions and what-did-you-expect shrugs among local residents, business owners and elected officials."

King Andrew apparently is not much of a private equity investor=-maybe he should bring in the folks at Bain Capitol to resurrect this fiasco. But don't give up hope Queens, Jack Friedman is here to save the day-although others with a more level head are not so sure Jack be nimble: "Some business leaders in Queens, including Jack Friedman, the executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, have said Willets Point could be ideal for a convention center, though Addabbo disagrees.“Willets Point is years behind what Resorts World has already built,” he said. “We can break ground on a convention center at Resorts World tomorrow. It’s better than any other site I can think of.” (http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/after-genting-talks-dissolve-some-doubt-convention-center-will-be/article_cc7b357a-ae8f-11e1-8ab4-001a4bcf887a.html)

In our view the entire convention center concept makes no business sense-and even less so at Willets Point where the infrastructure challenges and the obstreperousness of some "holdout" property owners makes this area a far from ideal destination. It's time for the city to step aside and let the area landowners develop the area themselves.