In a report on the economic benefits of capital investment in New York City’s cultural and tourism sectors, the New York Building Congress (NYBC) has outlined recommendations for expanding NYC’s integral role as America’s premier tourist destination.
Among the recommendations are a proposal to make New York the country’s convention city of choice with the addition of a second, complimentary exposition space and significant capital investment in transportation infrastructure that will link visitors to cultural attractions in the outer boroughs.
The study surveyed hundreds of tourism and cultural development projects either underway or in the immediate pipeline across all five boroughs, comprising more than $16 billion worth of development and accounting for an additional $22 billion in current and anticipated economic output.
The survey’s scope includes museums and performing arts centers, arenas and stadiums, signature parks and green spaces, mega retail destinations, convention and exhibition spaces, hotel and lodging development, and major transportation infrastructure.
NYBC president and CEO Carlo A. Scissura said in a statement: “This report presents clear evidence that investments in our culture and tourism sectors translate directly into jobs for New Yorkers and sustained economic output. But we need to make it easier for visitors to get around, especially to the tremendous assets we have in the outer boroughs.
“The good news is we have a working blueprint for growing New York City as a major cultural hub and top destination for leisure and business travelers. To get there, we need ongoing collaboration between, and continued capital commitments from, the city, state and private sector to maintain the momentum we’ve worked so hard to build.”
“Without significant investment along the lines of the initiatives outlined in this report, the city risks falling behind as a premier tourism destination,” he said.
Kei Hayashi, partner at BJH Advisors, a data and analytics firm that directed the research for the study, explained: “The culture and tourism sectors are foundational components of the city’s macro economy. While that may be an assumption taken for granted, this report goes into great detail to define the diverse economic impacts of these critical industries, and how much the city of New York depends on them for jobs and growth.”
The report’s recommendations include:
Make New York America’s convention city
Pursue a second convention/exhibition center outside Manhattan – A larger expo space with a focus on exhibits and trade shows with large local attendance, enabling the Javits Center to host more conventions and conferences with national and international attendee bases. Work with the hotel industry and other private sector partners to build more meeting space in strategic locations in all five boroughs.
Expand NYC’s cultural infrastructure
Create a Cultural Institutions Development Task Force to help plan a five-borough planning and investment strategy with the goal of building an interwoven, systematically-funded citywide cultural network. The Task Force would explore planning tools, capital funding and transportation improvements that will encourage visitors to explore new destinations and effectively expand options for users of the city’s cultural assets.
The Brooklyn Cultural District should be a model for creating new destinations for visitors around NYC. The city should explore opportunities to replicate the model in each of the outer boroughs. Consider additional zoning bonuses for arts and performing spaces as is done in Clinton and along 125th St. in Harlem and provide placemaking capital investments. Expand CreateNYC to give it a stronger focus on capital funding, specifically through investment in City-owned destination parks, museums and other cultural attractions.
Invest in transportation – Linking visitors to tourist destinations
Ensure the reliability of NYC’s mass transit system, key to welcoming and transporting the city’s 63 million annual tourists. Complete the transformation of LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark airports so they are able to accommodate the vastly increasing numbers of travelers arriving in New York.
A new station on the #7 subway line, an extension of the #1 subway line into Governors Island and Red Hook, and the BQX streetcar should be built to create access to important emerging cultural districts. Improve access to cultural attractions in the boroughs outside Manhattan. Options include the creation of additional NYC Ferry routes serving Coney Island and points in Staten Island beyond St. George, including Snug Harbor and the South Shore; better access and signage for pedestrians from the Brooklyn Bridge into Downtown Brooklyn; and better shuttle transportation to cultural attractions in Queens that are not conveniently accessible.
Highlights of key findings:
- The survey identified 168 recent and current projects with combined construction costs of more than $9.4 billion slated for completion before 2020, and an additional 155 projects with almost $7.1 billion in total construction costs that are in the planning pipeline.
- The construction of recently completed or under construction tourism and culture projects will add an estimated $12.9 billion in total economic output, over $5.9 billion in total wages, and over 62,000 total worker years to the NYC economy. Additionally, the construction of planned projects is expected to catalyze $9.7 billion in total economic output, $4.5 billion in total earnings, and 47,000 total worker years in NYC.
- The $25.5 billion in current/recent capital investment in transportation is estimated to generate $35 billion in total economic output, $16.1 billion in total earnings, and over 170,000 total worker years in the NYC economy (including direct, indirect, and induced multiplier effects). In total, planned transportation projects are estimated to require $32.3 billion in construction spending. This direct spending is estimated to catalyze a total of $44.3 billion in economic output, $20.3 billion in earnings, and over 215,000 worker years (including direct, indirect, and induced multiplier effects).
The report was a collaboration between the NYBC and its partner organization, the New York Building Foundation. Dodge Data & Analytics also contributed data to the report.