by Jonathan Vatner | January 01, 2005

NYABC membersNYABC members Daniel Gutman,
Danielle J. DeCerbo, Joe Restuccia,
Meta Brunzema, Anna Levin and
Anthony M. Borelli,
in front of the Javits Center

I’m sitting in a white-tiled makeshift boardroom in the basement of an apartment building at 454 West 35th St. in Manhattan. Around the table are six members of the New York Association for Better Choices. The 1,000-plus-member group, headed by a few dozen local movers and shakers, formed last May with the sole purpose of keeping a stadium out of the far West Side.
    “No one has ever thought a stadium was an appropriate economic development tool in this area,” says Anthony M. Borelli, district manager of Manhattan Community Board No. 4, sipping coffee from an oversized mug. “Never has anyone looked at it and said, ‘This is a good place for a stadium.’ ”
    The immediate neighborhood, which stretches roughly from West 28th Street north to West 42nd Street along Manhattan’s Hudson River shoreline, is riddled with warehouses and vacant storefronts yet also includes the gleaming Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and new bike and jogging lanes snaking along the water.
    Most residents call it Hell’s Kitchen, a relic of the area’s long-ago reputation as a haven for gang activity. Residential developers in the ’70s and ’80s began using the more family friendly name of Clinton. The city bureaucracy often refers to it with the dry geographic tag of Midtown West, while commercially minded forces have recently dubbed it Hudson Yards, for the sprawling lines of idle subway cars kept on a large and valuable parcel here. Each name represents a different vision and a different voice in a cacophonous debate over one of the last major underdeveloped areas in New York.

A neighborhood reborn?
The city released the following plans last spring, which would cost billions of dollars if all go forward as planned.
    " Expand the Javits Center from 720,000 to 1.5 million square feet of exhibition space and from 25,000 to 235,000 square feet of meeting space. Financing was approved in December, and the project might be done as early as 2010.
    " Build a 75,000-seat stadium just south of the Javits Center and over the rail yards, for use by the New York Jets football team and as an additional 180,000 square feet of exhibit space. Assuming the necessary approvals go forward, groundbreaking is hoped for later this year, with a projected 2009 opening.
    " Add a 1,500-room headquarters hotel north of the Javits Center by 2012.
    " Rezone 59 blocks to allow 12,600 apartments and 28 million square feet of commercial space. The Department of City Planning expects the rezoning to be approved this month.
    " Extend the number 7 subway line (which runs east-west along 41st Street and now ends at Seventh Avenue) over to 10th Avenue and then south to 34th Street and 11th Avenue. Digging should begin this year, with an estimated completion in 2010.
    " Create a network of public parks as developments are completed.