December 1, 2011

Cornell Still in Tech Campus Competition After Mayor Slashes Two Proposals

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Five proposals, including Cornell’s, remain in the competition to build a new technology and engineering campus in New York City after Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday that two proposals have been ruled out.

In a speech Tuesday, he singled out the plans put forth by Cornell and Stanford University.

“Stanford is desperate to do it. I’m not exaggerating,” Bloomberg said, according to the New York Daily News. “Cornell is desperate to do it. I’m not exaggerating there. There are a couple of other schools that have a really good chance as well.”

A total of seven proposals by 17 universities were submitted to the city in October. While on Tuesday Bloomberg said that only four proposals were still in the running, he revised the number to five on Wednesday.

According to the New York Daily News, proposals from India’s Amity University and a partnership between the New York Genome Center, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rockefeller University and SUNY Stony Brook have been eliminated from the competition. Amity University wanted to build a campus in Midtown Manhattan, and the partnership proposed constructing a tech campus on Governors Island.

The two eliminated proposals “just didn’t meet the criteria,” Bloomberg said Wednesday. “If they want to do something that’s maybe nice to have, but doesn’t create jobs, that’s not part of this program.”

The five remaining proposals are led by Cornell, Stanford University, Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon University and New York University. Several media outlets have reported that Cornell and Stanford are the front-runners in the competition.

Still, Bloomberg reiterated on Wednesday that the prize remained contested.

“It’s a heated competition,” he said.

After previously saying the city had not ruled out the possibility of choosing more than one winner, Bloomberg said on Wednesday that the city may also ask the finalists to revise their initial proposals.

“We’re working with the last [five]. We can go back and try to renegotiate with each one,” Bloomberg said.

Both Cornell and Stanford want to build campuses on Roosevelt Island, while Columbia wants to expand its Manhattan campus. Carnegie Mellon is looking to build a campus at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and NYU wants to expand into a city-owned building in Brooklyn.

Bloomberg has offered $100 million and a land grant to the university with the most appealing proposal. The city estimated that the campus would generate $6 billion in economic activity and $1 billion in tax revenue for the city in the next 35 years. The proposal is part of a larger effort by Bloomberg to lure engineering talent and high-tech startups to the city.

“The bottom line is that a lot of people that come out of these applied science or engineering schools will start companies right where they have spent time going to school. And we’re in a big battle for jobs in the city,” Bloomberg said.

Cornell, which is partnering with the The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, has proposed developing a 2 million-square-foot, billion-dollar applied science and engineering campus. Emphasizing sustainability, the design includes four acres of solar paneling and four acres of geothermal wells. The core academic building is expected to qualify for LEED Platinum certification, with the rest of its buildings reaching LEED Silver or higher levels.

If Cornell’s proposal is accepted, the campus will begin accepting undergraduates by next summer and graduate students by 2013, according to University officials. The University expects the proposal would take about 30 years to complete, with 250 faculty members and at least 2,000 full-time students using the space.

Original Author: David Marten