Willets Pt. site snubbed in bids for tech center

NE Qns activist lauds Roosevelt Isle campus
Courtesy Cornell University
By Rebecca Henely

After a Monday deadline, seven universities submitted plans for a New York City campus as part of a mayoral initiative to establish a technical center and while there were no bids for Queens, two powerhouse institutions had an eye on Manhattan’s Roosevelt Island, which could bring major economic benefits to the borough.

Representatives from both New York’s Cornell University and California’s Stanford University said the island’s proximity to Queens was a factor in their choosing the site.

“Having Queens right across the bridge is a major asset to our perspective because of the development opportunities,” said Lapin, a spokeswoman for Stanford, last Thursday.

Roosevelt Island was one of four sites suggested in Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city Economic Development Corp.’s Applied Sciences NYC Plan, which wants to entice universities to build an applied sciences and engineering campus somewhere within the city.

Other sites suggested by Applied Sciences included Governors Island, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and the Farm Colony in Staten Island. But sites in Queens were left out despite the efforts of a group called Coalition for Queens, which under the leadership of activist Jukay Hsu, had drummed up widespread support in the borough for Willets Point as a possible location.

Cornell, which is partnering on its Roosevelt Island plan with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, has proposed a campus that would be more than 2 million square feet with a price tag expected to exceed $1 billion, Cornell spokeswoman Claudia Wheatley said last Thursday.

The Cornell NYC Tech Campus will offer master’s and Ph.D. degrees and will be built around multidisciplinary research areas rather than traditional academic departments. Cornell argued they were the best candidates for a Roosevelt Island campus as the institution already has a presence in the city in locations such as the Weill-Cornell Medical Center.

“We are poised to build a true 21st century campus that will train tomorrow’s tech leaders and drive New York City’s emerging tech economy,” Cornell President David Skorton said in a release earlier this year.

Stanford is proposing a 1.9 million-square-foot campus that will be developed for $2.5 billion throughout 30 years. Like Cornell’s proposal, StanfordNYC will focus on graduate studies. Stanford’s School of Engineering, Graduate School of Business and Hasso Plattner Institute of Design and Technology Ventures programs will be located at the site. Stanford plans to partner with City College of New York at the new campus.

“StanfordNYC will bring Stanford’s unparalleled track record in research, innovation and entrepreneurship to New York City,” President John Hennessy wrote in the institution’s submission letter.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), whose districts encompass Long Island City, have both come out in support of a technological campus being built at Roosevelt Island.

The EDC said the final selection of both the location and the proposal for the new campus will be announced at the end of this year.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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