NYABC 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
“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