New Haven may have all the comforts of home, but students in the not-so-distant future will find the train ride into New York City to be a trip worth taking. That’s the message Dan Doctoroff delivered to a packed room of architecture students and faculty during the annual Eero Saarinen lecture on Thursday night at the Arts and Architecture building. Doctoroff, New York City’s deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding, discussed the city’s plans for economic redevelopment in the age of the post-industrial economy and the post-9/11 fear of terrorist attacks.
In his lecture, Doctoroff said New York is perched on the edge of a new era of development. The much-publicized rebuilding effort at the site of the World Trade Center should serve as an impetus to a new wave of growth in Lower Manhattan, he said. And the city is making a bid to host the 2012 Olympics that, if successful, will lead to an overhaul in its transportation infrastructure.
“The historians of the future will look on this period as transformative for our city,” Doctoroff said.
The Olympic plan involves the building of a number of new sports facilities along two major axes of transportation: a rail line that runs east to west across the city and a water route that runs north to south along the East River. One part of the new construction will be a basketball stadium for an NBA team in Brooklyn.
“This would mark the first time in 50 years that Brooklyn has had a major league sports team,” said Doctorof, adding that the Brooklyn Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1947. “We hope to get the New Jersey Nets to relocate there by 2007.”
Other big plans for the city include the redevelopment of the Hudson Yard in Midtown Manhattan. Planners hope to cover what is now a tangle of old railroad tracks with new office buildings, a convention center, and a large public park.
“It’s probably the most ambitious plan the city has undertaken since the Great Depression,” Doctoroff said.
The Hudson Yard redesign would cost $5 billion in public funds. But Doctoroff said the investment is justified, even in a time of budget shortfalls.
“The Hudson Yard project will produce $80 billion in increased tax revenue,” he said. “We can use that to pay the debt service on our bonds.”
The city still has a number of problems, Doctoroff said. Many companies, faced with the high cost of real estate, have relocated their offices to the suburbs. And there remains a shortage of affordable housing. But Doctoroff sounds optimistic — he compared the present situation of the city with past circumstances that led to the building of the Erie Canal and the New York subway system.
“In each case,” he said, “a desperate need combined with a powerful vision led to a transformation of the city’s landscape.”
While plans for tomorrow’s New York cityscape remain tenuous, Doctoroff maintains that they will ultimately come to fruition.
“We are not just dreaming about the future,” he said. “We are shaping it. Nothing in New York is simple. But we are certainly making progress.”