Cuomo sees bigger, better Javits Center as key to NYC’s post-COVID rebound

Cuomo cuts the ribbon on the expansion of the Jacob Javits Convention Center
Photo by Dean Moses

New York always does it bigger and better, and for Governor Andrew Cuomo, that means a recovery that includes numerous construction efforts to reinvigorate the state’s economy — especially in Manhattan.

Governor Andrew Cuomo came to the Jacob Javits Convention Center on Tuesday to announce a major expansion of the Far West Side event mecca.

Cuomo focused on the term post-pandemic to help showcase the state’s plans for the future and to leave the worst of the COVID-19 virus in the rear-view mirror. The governor says it is time for the Big Apple to get back up after being knocked down and rise through city expansions, bringing in tourism, business, and other ventures.

Cuomo discusses New York’s comeback story. Photo by Dean Moses

“We are going to make the future of New York City better than ever. We are going to build the economy. We are going to generate the economy. We are not going to wait for it to come back automatically and spring back automatically. No, we are going make our future,” Cuomo said, describing past efforts to rebuild New York during tough economic crisis. He labeled the Javits Center as a cornerstone of this effort upon its creation in 1986.

Over the past year, the Javits Center has become a shifting symbol throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, transforming from a convention hub to a temporary hospital at the height of the pandemic last spring, to an ongoing vaccination site today.

Now, as New York sees the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, Cuomo said the Javits Center will be the first of many Empire State institutions to be renewed — growing into an even bigger venue to bring back business.  

“It couldn’t come at a better time. We worked to continue the project through COVID because we knew we would need it post COVID. That is exactly what has been accomplished here today. As the economy is reopening and crowds are regathering, we have the place for them to come at the new Javits Convention Center,” Cuomo said, describing the site as a multipurpose facility that could accommodate a wide variety of events.   

The governor also spoke of plans to develop other key city points. Photo by Dean Moses

Through $1.5 billion in expansion efforts, the new construction will create 1.2 million square feet of space, making it the biggest venue in the city at 3.3 million total square feet. That includes more than 200,000 square feet of meeting room space, 54,000 square-feet of additional special event space, a four-level 27-loading dock facility, a rooftop area that will include a pavilion, terrace, greenhouse and a small, one acre farm. 

The expansion had been in the works since before the pandemic, and though it was halted due to non-essential construction restrictions, the project remains on budget. The governor’s office said it will create 6,000 new jobs and generate $400 million in additional economic activity annually.

Cuomo shared that while the Javits Center still functions as a vaccination site, since it is such a large-scale venue, the convention hall will still be able to hold events, albeit at 30% capacity, and with the State Department of Health protocols in place starting on May 19.

“Re-investing in our infrastructure is critical to restarting our economy after COVID-19, and the expansion of the Javits Center will play a pivotal role in attracting people back to New York and supporting local businesses,” Cuomo said. “From operating as a COVID-19 field hospital to the largest vaccination center in the United States, the Javits Center has demonstrated its importance to the recovery and resurgence of the Empire State, and this project reinforces their part in New York’s economic future.”

Alan Steel, the President and CEO of Jacob Javits Center showcases new development space. Photo by Dean Moses

The Javits Center will be one key part of several Midtown West redevelopment plans, which will include the reconstruction of Pier 76, Penn Station, Moynihan Train Hall, a two phases to the extension of the High Line, a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, a rebuilt LaGuardia Airport, and more.

“It is part of what we believe will be a historic building period for the state of New York and for Manhattan. It is a part of a comprehensive rejuvenation of the West Side of Manhattan, where you have individual pieces but there is a synergy among all of them,” Cuomo said.

Alan Steel, the President and CEO of Jacob Javits Center, was happy to share the move to becoming once again an economic engine bringing back tourism and business to the city. 

“The reality for us as we went through a period of being a hospital and still now a period of now being a vaccination center is that we never lost sight of what was coming and with the Governor’s support we saw the future as bright. What we are seeing now is the culmination of many years of effort,” Steel said.

Cuomo also announced a new round of the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative, awarding $750 million to creative minds. The deadline for this application is July 30.

Green space with solar panels are being added to the roof. Photo by Dean Moses