The Metro Area Opens Up

Taken from an interview with Christopher Boylan.

Christopher Boylan is director, governmental and strategic partnerships at General Contractors Association of New York. He was previously deputy director of the NYS Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Heavy infrastructure and a good strong transit system are what allow the region to work. The following projects will be game-changers for both small and big businesses:

East Side Access: By 2018 or 2019, this project will allow the Long Island Railroad to go into Grand Central. Not only will this increase the capacity of the LIRR by 40 percent, it will provide a host of new opportunities for businesses on the East Side of Manhattan. Having all these people traveling in and out of the city and spending disposable income here will help drive the local economy.

Second Avenue subway: The target completion date for the first phase, from 63rd Street to 96th Street, is 2017. When it’s done, it will change the nature of the Upper East Side. There will be tremendous opportunities for businesses that support residential and office areas.

No. 7 Subway Extension: If you’ve ever tried to get to the Jacob Javits Convention Center by foot or bus, you know it’s a pain. The extension of the No. 7 line from Times Square to West 34th Street and 11th Avenue, slated to be complete in June 2014, is creating New York’s next neighborhood. There will be offices and residences and they will need entertainment, food, and other support from local small businesses.

The Gateway Project, if funded, will provide much-needed relief for New Jersey and Northeast corridor commuters. Amtrak wants to build two new tunnels under the Hudson River and expand two existing tunnels that it owns and that are also used by New Jersey Transit. This will provide a better flow of passengers between New York and New Jersey, and provide for better LIRR and Amtrak access.

Increasing this capacity goes to the heart of additional development—city-to-city companies that want to locate in the Hudson Yards area because of good access to the rest of the Northeast corridor. You could walk three blocks from your office and take the Acela to Washington D.C. or Boston.

The earliest completion date would be 2025. It’s still in the discussion stage, but a lot of us are working together to make it happen. Keep your eyes and ears open.

Where the people will be: In the next decade, we need to be ready for an enormous growth in population, fueled largely by young people moving toward metropolitan areas. In the next 10 to 20 years we will see the New York metro area population grow by one to one-and-a-half million.

Kids just out of college can’t afford Manhattan, so they’re going to Williamsburg, Astoria, Canarsie, and Jackson Heights. All those places are booming because of good transit. And the young people are not leaving like they used to, when they’d work in the city for four to five years, get married, and move to the suburbs. A lot of them are staying in place and having their families here. If I were an entrepreneur I’d take a ride around some of those areas to see what services are missing, or set up a base on the fringe of one of the areas that’s expanding in size and scope as it gentrifies.