This morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $1 Billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City.
Construction will start soon, and will require the demolition of the North Hall, built in 2008. That space is best known to comics fans as the site of New York Comic Con’s artist alley. (And to insiders as having the best restrooms in the entire complex.)
The site has some difficult geometries, both above and below ground.
That large red brick building? It’s been there since 1937, and is one of the ventilation towers for the Lincoln Tunnel, which runs beneath 39th Street. A companion tower also exists to the west, cutting a corner from Halls 1A and 3A.
So what’s planned?
A rooftop event space, with views of the Hudson River.
A truck garage, to reduce traffic and pollution on nearby streets. This will occupy the current footprint of the North Hall, and appears to be an underground facility. (Could the MTA do the same with the bus barn directly north, and allow Javits to expand further?)
Will this replace the marshalling yard trailer parking currently located between 33rd and 34th Streets? What will become of that lot, which hosts the entrance to the High Line? The railyard directly south will be the final phase of Hudson Yards, designed to host multiple residential buildings.
500,000 square feet of exhibit space?!?! You might wonder: How can they place 500K when the North Hall had only 80K?
There’s a lot of empty space there now. This is the lot behind the passageway, which few see.
It appears that this will be on the ground floor (second level), and not level with Hall 3. Most likely, this is probably due to the Lincoln Tunnel and foundations. An exhibit hall with a lighter event space above has a lesser load than an exhibit hall placed above another level.
For comparison, Halls 3A-E total 410,000 sq.ft. Generally speaking, New York Comic Con could move into the new space, have extra space for more vendors (or aisles), and then hold another comic con in Hall 3.
Five times more meeting space. (Not sure where they got that figure…) 164,000 square feet.
Currently, Halls 1A and 1E hold the bulk of meeting rooms, with 70K and 45K respectively, with the 1D “ballroom” hosting 30K. New York Comic Con could move ALL of their event programming (the two stages plus the larger panel rooms, 145K) into this new space, and still have space left over for a few more panels.
A 58,000 square foot ballroom, said to be the largest in the Northeast. (The North Hall currently offers 80,000 sq.ft.)
Resorts World Casino, located near JFK Airport, boasts a 70,000 sq.ft. banquet hall.
Hall H in San Diego? 64,842 sq.ft.
This is twice the size of Hall 1D, so either this hosts one big event space à la Hall H, or it’s split into two stages. In addition to whatever purpose they use the meeting rooms.
This is the view looking southeastward, the top floor of the expansion hosting the ballroom. This would be the pre-function space, where people would line up for The Next Big Thing.
…and the wide shot. This photo will never exist in reality, as the entire length of Eleventh Avenue facing the Javits Center will be filled with skyscrapers riding the coattails of the Hudson Yards development.
(Go ahead… click on it…)
Total exhibition space (Counting Halls 1 and 3, plus the new addition):
1,135,000 square feet. That places NYC as fifth largest in the U.S., by exhibition space.
This is impressive. It fixes many of the mistakes made during the original design, or adds innovations created by newer convention centers.
The cost… will be split between the Javits Center and the Empire State Development Corporation, both of which are governmental agencies.
The funding? Well, if you’re really curious, read this PDF report from 2009 which was prepared when Javits was being renovated. Any bonds issued are funded by the 40-year New York State Hotel Unit Fee ($1.50 per unit per day). You can read the law here. It seems that that tax also applies to apartment rentals, so, yes, if you live in The City, you’re probably paying for this, $550 a year.
I would like to see a tower built over the marshalling yard south of 34th Street. It would be a skyscraper of ballrooms, meeting rooms, theaters, eateries, back of house, and office space. It would mitigate the “dead end” of Hall E, where few venture, by encouraging attendees to travel further for special events and programming. This space would also compete with other venues for smaller events which do not require the larger convention center space.
Given the geography of 34th Street, Javits could be expanded both over the street with a third floor exhibit space, and underneath with a connecting tunnel along the east side of Eleventh Avenue.
Once the expansion is finished, will Javits remodel the spaces on the first floor? Will Hall 1D connect to 1C and 1E, allowing for a superhall similar to what can be achieved on the third floor?
Attendees of New York Comic Con might remember the passageways on the show floor, placed there while the entire roof was replaced. With the demolition of the North Hall and subsequent construction, shows which use the entire space, such as New York Comic Con and the New York Auto Show, will have to compress their spaces and limit exhibitors, as well as attendees.
What happens when this new space opens? Will mega-shows explode into the space, or grow slowly? Might we see corporations rent large spaces in this hall, similar to how automobile manufacturers rent out large chunks of the North Hall for displays? Could this hall function as The Big Sell, lessening the congestion found at New York Comic Con? Or would exhibitors in “Old Town” feel that they weren’t getting enough traffic? (With some 300,000 estimated attendees, that’s doubtful, but some will still grumble.)
I’m a little disappointed that the Sunnyside Yards proposal won’t be realized… but I’m sure someone will find a use for that space.
I’ve been writing for The Beat since July of 2010.
I’ve been reading comics since 1974, collecting since 1984, and spreading the graphic novel gospel since 1994.
I’m a bookseller, a librarian, an amateur scholar, a cool uncle, and a comics evangelist.
Ask me anything!