News for Big and Small Meetings in Big Apple - 2006-08-10

Good news for conventions and trade shows: A plan to expand the Jacob Javits Convention Center (http://www.javitscenter.com/06expansion.asp) overcame its final hurdle last week, as the state’s Public Authority Control Board, comprising Governor George Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, approved public funding for the $1.7-billion project. The expansion is expected to increase the center's exhibit space by 45 percent, to 1.1 million square feet; and meeting room space by 600 percent, to 210,000 square feet. A headquarters hotel is also part of the project. Construction is scheduled to begin this fall, with a 2010 completion.

Meanwhile, New York’s bailiwick--the small, exclusive meeting--has a venue today, as Ian Schrager opens the first hotel of his eponymous company, the reinvented 185-room Gramercy Park Hotel(http://www.gramercyparkhotel.com),, or GPH. Located at the edge of the historic and exclusive enclave of Gramercy Park (a private sanctuary to which access is gained with a $1,000 key), some might remember the old hotel as “that dump with the best location in town.” Starting this fall, groups will be able to spill out from the Roof Club’s meeting room onto three terraces (largest capacity: 276), but now they can have a seated dinner for 30 in the penthouse suite, featuring “custom plastered lime walls using a 600-year-old European technique, a mahogany wood ceiling, an original Stanford White fireplace and mantle, carefully chosen antiques from around the world, and a series of photographs curated by artist Julian Schnabel.” Afterwards, they can take a $1,000 walk in the park, gratis—the desk will lend the key.