This New York City convention center has undergone a major expansion – was it for nothing?

By on May 31, 2021 0

The coronavirus pandemic has brought our society to a screeching halt in the past 15 months. Now things are finally starting to reopen and travel is starting to pick up – something hotels are extremely grateful for given the brutal financial blow they suffered in 2020.

But there is a difference between a slight increase in leisure travel and the idea of ​​bringing together thousands of people under one roof for massive conferences and conventions. Not only is business travel expected to lag behind short-term pleasure travel, but large-scale indoor gatherings may continue to be excluded even at a time when growing numbers of Americans are getting vaccinated against it. COVID-19 and the CDC is relax in a very big way.

This is problematic for New York City in light of its recent $ 1.5 billion investment in the Javits Center in Midtown, the city’s largest convention space.

Although plans for the redevelopment of the Javits Center were in place before the pandemic, the city has already invested financial resources to add approximately 1.3 million square feet to this space in the form of meeting rooms, a rooftop pavilion, ballroom and gathering area. for trucks delivering conference exhibits. And now the question remains: was all this work for nothing?

Will the conventions return?

By early summer, the Javits Center should be nice and ready to host conventions and other events. But whether the organizers bite is another story.

The most important annual events at the Javits Center have been canceled since the start of the pandemic. These include the New York International Auto Show and Comic-Con.

For the past 15 months, the Javits Center has not functioned as a convention center but as a health facility. At the start of the pandemic, it was transformed into an emergency hospital with 2,500 beds. Then, after lying empty for several months after hospitalizations declined, it reopened as a coronavirus vaccination center, providing more than 10,000 injections per day. But at this point, many New York City residents have received a blow, and the Javits Center should be in a solid position to become a convention center again, that is, if someone does. wish.

New York City itself intends to reopen in full come July 1st. But that doesn’t mean event planners will rush to book plans.

Another problem with the Javits Center itself is that it’s located in a mostly industrial part of New York City with no easy access to the hotel. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that the state would be soliciting bids for land just east of the Javits Center that could be turned into a hotel to better attract visitors.

But even if that problem is resolved, it might still be some time before large-scale conventions are reintroduced into the mix. And that could deal a blow to New York City, which relies on massive events to get people to shop and dine locally and stay in area hotels.

So far, the pandemic has cost the Javits Center around $ 200 million from canceled events. And the longer it takes to bring back the conventions, the more money the establishment is likely to lose.

Incidentally, New York is not the only city to have invested heavily in convention centers recently. Over the past few years, Las Vegas, Seattle and San Francisco have collectively invested billions to make their convention halls larger and more attractive to event planners and guests. But even if things improve when it comes to the pandemic, it may be some time before the conventions regain their popularity, and investors will need to remain vigilant and skip the line until that happens. .