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09 Feb 2018
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New York’s Hudson Yards Development Gains Were Snatched from the Jaws of Olympic Defeat

This week marks the official start of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Olympics give their host city the chance to achieve substantial economic advancement and notoriety. New York has never been the host to an Olympic games, but in 2004 the administration of Mayor Bloomberg attempted and failed in a bid to host the 2012 summer Olympics. Strangely and unexpectedly, this planning for the Olympics without the actual costs of holding the games has led New York to achieve the development goals set out in the Olympic proposal, remaking multiple parts of the city, some still in progress. The largest development New York gained through the process is the Hudson Yards.[1]

It was the bid for the summer Olympics that finally gave the city government the impetus to push through the needed reforms that would eventually create the Hudson Yards as the hub of economic activity that it is today. As part of its Olympic bid, the city proposed a massive rezoning of the far west side, opening up the area to new investment in commercial development projects. Though the bid was lost, the rezoning idea remained. In 2005 the proposal—with the exception of an Olympic/football stadium–was passed into law. Now, thirteen years later, we can see the result. Commercial development has flourished in the area.[2]

Other benefits to the City flowing from the Olympic bid is that we now have  the exceedingly popular Hudson Yards extension of the 7 train, allowing, for the first time, subway access west of 8th avenue in Midtown Manhattan.[3] Further, part of the Olympic proposal was a doubling of the size of the Javits Center to serve as a hub for indoor sports. The project was revived by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2016 and three firms have already been selected to bid on a $1 billion expansion plan for the complex, and start of construction is imminent.[4] Without the push of an Olympic bid, the Hudson Yards, a multi-billion driver of development and economic growth, simply might not have come into existence.

[1] Plitt, Amy. (Feb. 1, 2018) “New York’s unrealized Olympic dreams, mapped.” Curbed New York. Available at: https://ny.curbed.com/maps/winter-olympics-2018-nyc2012-bid-hudson-yards. Accessed on: Feb. 7, 2018.

[2] Williams, Keith. (Dec. 13, 2016) “The evolution of Hudson Yards: from “Death Avenue” to NYC’s most advanced neighborhood.” Curbed New York. Available at: https://ny.curbed.com/2016/12/13/13933084/hudson-yards-new-york-history-manhattan . Accessed on: Feb. 7, 2018.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

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