The New York Building Congress and its building community partners are pressing the State Legislature to break a stalemate that threatens to derail the United Nations Development Corporation (UNDC)’s plan to renovate the international body’s Manhattan campus and construct a new building to allow the UN to consolidate its non-campus office space.
The $1.2 billion plan calls for renovation of U.N. campus buildings to be facilitated by construction of a new "swing space" building that will house U.N. offices, employees and convention space while its main headquarters, the Secretariat, undergoes a needed renovation.
The project, to be financed through low interest federal loans, would create 5,000 construction jobs and generate local tax revenue, while preserving 18,000 U.N. jobs. After the Secretariat reopens, the new tower would be used to house employees currently spread throughout the City and allow for future expansion.
To move forward, the project needs two Albany approvals: expansion of the UNDC’s district (to include the new building) and the use of parkland.
In exchange for the rights to build over a 28,000 square-foot portion of the Robert Moses Playground at 42nd Street and First Avenue, the UNDC has offered to build an approximately 100,000 square foot esplanade and park along the East River – an approach supported by the community board and local elected officials.
“ The reasons approvals are not forthcoming has nothing to do with the merits of the proposal, but rather a longstanding resentment that the UN, allegedly, is not appropriately deferent to its host City and State,” said Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson. “At a time when many are voicing doubts about our ability to implement important public projects, we cannot discard a fully funded and revenue-generating development project.”
In recent weeks, the Building Congress has lobbied key Albany officials, submitted op eds and letters to the editor in support of the project, and urged members to express their support for the proposal to State Legislators.