Home Hospitality Iconic Venues Iconic Venues: The Javits Center, History and Context of NYC’s Convention Industry

Iconic Venues: The Javits Center, History and Context of NYC’s Convention Industry


We’ve referred to the Javits Center a number of times in past explorations, because alongside the Madison Square Garden, it is considered one of the crown jewels of Manhattan’s event real estate properties. At 840,000 square feet of exhibition space, the Javits Center is the largest convention center in the Northeast, 13th largest in the United States. It is estimated to contribute $1.5 billion annually to the New York City economy, and provide some 15,000 jobs between the maintenance of the property and the operations of the 80 or so events that it hosts each year.

But still, compared to the rest of the world, New York City ranks no higher than 64th place our the convention industry income. The costs of Manhattan are prohibitive to much of the requirements for convention productions. Everything ranging from the high average daily rates for hotel accommodations and other hospitality services, as well as transportation difficulties for the often-enormous set pieces involved in producing large scale conventions, makes Manhattan a suboptimal location compared to cities like Las Vegas and Orlando with less population density.

Which is probably why there’s been talk for several years now about moving the Javits Center out to Queens. The area in Manhattan around the current Javits Center is undergoing a massive project called the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project, the largest single real estate development project in the history of human civilization. They’re building an entirely new neighborhood, with residential buildings, commercial buildings, retail spaces, parks, the whole works. If the Javits Center were to be demolished and moved to Queens, in its current place can be an expansion of this Hudson Yards project.

The Javits is home to a number of iconic New York City events that happen each year, like the New York Auto Show, the Comic Con, and basically any other convention with an audience of more than 5,000 people. For single-venue events (as opposed to ones like the Tribeca Film Festival that contracts multiple venues) New York City event organizers can have a range of options up to 5,000 people: we can use Pier 92/94 like the Armory Show, we can use the Hilton Midtown, Radio City, or book out Lincoln Center. Beyond 5,000 people however, it’s either do a multi-venue event that’s considerably more difficult to coordinate, or do the event at the Javits Center. If the Javits does get moved to Queens, these events would either need to have attendees that don’t mind the commute, or be moved out of New York City entirely (as in for example, a New York Auto Show would no longer exist…).

Despite all the controversies surrounding the specific potential location of Queens and the move out of Manhattan, I do have to say that it’s understandable why people all the way up to New York State Governor is pushing for the Javits Center to be moved and expanded. Between the potential near future moves of both the Javits Center and the Madison Square Garden, Manhattan stands to possibly lose over 2 million square feet of what are currently its most iconic pieces of events real estate. It’ll be interesting to see, what the implications will be for the New York events industry.

See you at the next exploration!



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