July 26, 2006

Plan to expand NYC convention center clears hurdle

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Long-stalled plans to expand New York
City's Jacob K. Javits Center on Wednesday cleared what was
expected to be the final political hurdle when the state's top
leaders approved the project.

Republican Gov. George Pataki said in a statement that with
the vote by the Public Authorities Control Board, "Our vision
of a world class state-of-the-art fully functional
international Convention Center for New York City is about to
become a reality."

The project, which former Republican Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
was unable to get going despite repeated efforts, will add some
340,000 square feet of exhibition space to the current hall.

Giuliani and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another Republican,
have said New York City loses conventions to other cities
because they have much bigger exhibition spaces.

The Javits project, which includes a new hotel and a park
at 11th Avenue between 39th and 40th Streets, is one of the
first major west Midtown developments to win approval, though a
number of other plans are being discussed.

Just south of the center, for example, the city hopes to
buy half of a 26-acre site from the Metropolitan Transportation
Authority, for new commercial, office and residential

Jonathan Tisch, the chairman of NYC & Co., said: "On the
promise of an expanded and modernized Javits enter, NYC &
Company has already secured nine new conventions representing
310,000 hotel room nights, $228 million in economic activity
and $10 million in tax revenue."

NYC & Co. is the city's marketing arm.

New York City will raise its $350 million share of the
project's cost by selling general obligation bonds. The state
will sell an equal amount of debt backed by its personal income

A New York City official was not immediately available to
say when its bonds will be sold; a state official had no
immediate comment.

The state already has sold $645 million of debt backed by a
$1.50 key surcharge that the hotel industry is collecting.