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Friday, December 16, 2011

Stanford University Has Withdrawn Its Application To The City Of New York To Construct An Applied Sciences And Engineering Campus On Roosevelt Island.

Just received this breaking news from Stanford University:

Stanford University withdraws its bid for a NYC campus

Stanford University has withdrawn its application to the city of New York to construct an applied sciences and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island.

After several weeks of negotiations with New York City, university leaders and the Stanford Board of Trustees have determined that it would not be in the best interests of the university to continue to pursue the opportunity.

"I applaud the mayor's bold vision for this transformative project and wish the city well in turning that vision into a reality," said Stanford President John Hennessy. "Stanford was very excited to participate in the competition, and we were honored to be selected as a finalist. We were looking forward to an innovative partnership with the city of New York, and we are sorry that together we could not find a way to realize our mutual goals.

"Stanford put forward an ambitious and serious proposal and worked hard to see that vision fulfilled," Hennessy said. In the end, Hennessy said, the university could not be certain that it could proceed in a way that ensured the success of the campus. He said that the university decided to withdraw so that the city can move forward with its selection process and meet its tight timelines for the completion of the project.

"I appreciate the tremendous effort put forth at all levels of the university and the city. We are grateful for the enthusiastic support of the tech community both in New York and in Silicon Valley, the efforts of our alumni and the welcome we received throughout New York and from residents of Roosevelt Island in particular," Hennessy said. "We gained through this process a fruitful partnership with our colleagues at the City College of New York, a partnership that will strengthen both of our programs and will continue to benefit New York City students for many years to come.

"We learned much from this process and know there will be exciting opportunities in the future to explore the issues that were at the forefront of this effort—the challenge of expanding our ability to deliver Stanford's high-quality education to more outstanding students," Hennessy said. "Great universities need to continue to take risks, to innovate and to explore new opportunities where we can make contributions to supporting economic growth and expanding knowledge.  Stanford will continue to follow this path."
No further information available at this time. This is very disappointing news.

More information on the NYC Applied Sciences and Engineering School from previous posts.

UPDATE 5 PM - The Stanford Daily reports:
... Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said that negotiations between the University and New York were still ongoing as of this morning....
and:
In a speech at MIT in late November, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called both Stanford and Cornell “desperate” for the NYC campus and added that the city would “go back and try to renegotiate with each one.”
The NY Times City Room Blog adds:
... Stanford officials were frustrated by the city’s attempts to negotiate new terms after the university submitted its proposal in October, according to people briefed on the matter, who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal private discussions....
Cornell Tech NYC Tweets:
BREAKING: Cornell receives $350 million dollar gift from anonymous donor to support #appscinyc bid - largest in Univ. history!
The NY Times City Room Blog adds:
New York City’s contest to build a science graduate school took a startling turn on Friday, as Cornell University announced that it had received a $350 million gift, the largest in its history, to help pay for a new campus on Roosevelt Island, moments after Stanford University, the other leading contender, dropped its bid, partly because Cornell had taken the lead in fund-raising....
UPDATE 5:50 PM
Roosevelt Island elected officials NYC Council Member Jessica Lappin and NY State Assembly Member Micah Kellner issued the following statement:
With today’s news that Stanford is withdrawing its bid, we urge the city to choose Cornell University to build an applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island. It’s exciting to have a hometown school take the lead in our city’s economic future. Not only is Cornell a world-class academic institution, but it chose the perfect location for the school on Roosevelt Island.
UPDATE 12/17:- According to the NY Daily News:
... talks between the city and Stanford broke down in recent weeks after university officials refused to sweeten their proposal, sources close to the talks said. A deal could be announced as soon as next week.

“It was getting down to the very end of the negotiations, where the city is trying to get the best deal it can, and Cornell was offering a better deal in terms of money, in terms of other commitments . . . and Stanford couldn’t keep up,” said a source with knowledge of the negotiations.

Stanford officials hold a starkly different view of the dealings.

After submitting an ambitious plan for a $2.5 billion campus on Roosevelt Island, Stanford was taken aback by the city’s “unexpected” and “unreasonable” demands, sources said.

In a series of tense talks, a source said, city officials asked Stanford reps to agree to: move forward even if the $100 million in promised public funding dries up, sustain penalties for project delays — even those caused by the city — and indemnify the city against any costs associated with environmental problems on Roosevelt Island.

“They feel it was a bait-and-switch,” said a source familiar with Stanford’s thinking....
UPDATE 12/18 - Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the MIT Entrepreneurial Center Tweets:
 Stanford withdraws bid for NYC Roosevelt Island Campus - that is a surpise after Mayor's comments here 2 wks ago
The NY Post reports that environmental conditions on the Roosevelt Island Goldwater Hospital site may have played a part in Stanford's withdrawal. According to the NY Post:
... The nation’s No. 2 engineering school was outbid by Cornell, which was willing to pay more to build on a Roosevelt Island site that required toxic cleanup. Stanford, meanwhile refused to agree to a bill for remediation that wasn’t capped, sources said....

... “Cornell was willing to agree to everything and anything,” one source said. “Stanford was a much tougher negotiator, and they and the EDC [the city’s Economic Development Corp.] just couldn’t get on the same page on a number of issues.”...

... Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin told The Post last night, “There was a level of risk and liability involved that our attorney and board could not agree to.’’...
UPDATE 9:50 PM -The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on Stanford withdrawing its proposal under the headline:
Stanford's Dream of 'Silicon Valley II' Dissolves Into Angry Recriminations
According to the article:
... Now come the recriminations: Did Stanford pull out because it took on bit off more than it could handle and didn't want to face an embarrassing loss? Or did New York City pull a bait-and-switch on an unsuspecting partner?

Neither side is saying much publicly. But through intermediaries, both sides are letting it be known that they're deeply unhappy and puzzled after more than a year of high-stakes lobbying and negotiating over what once loomed as a prestigious opportunity for a front-line research base in one of the world's showcase cities....
and:
... Over the weekend, sources sympathetic to each side sketched out for The Chronicle largely competing versions of events in the final days before Stanford's withdrawal.

New York City officials, speaking on condition they not be identified by name, essentially questioned Stanford's commitment. The New York Times had described one such official speaking in especially disparaging terms, saying Stanford "could not or would not keep up."

Stanford officials regard such comments as political spin, said one person familiar with the university's position. Stanford was fully committed to its application, the person said, but the city kept backing off its promises. One especially troublesome failure, the person said, involved the city's unkept promise to fully assess the extent of contamination from medical waste dumped at the proposed site on the southern end of Roosevelt Island.

The city instead demanded Stanford accept full liability for any problems from whatever waste is there, the person said. The city also demanded contract language requiring Stanford to stick with the project even if the city doesn't come up with the $100-million contribution it had been offering, the person said.

A New York City official disputed Stanford's understanding on each of those key points. The official, who declined to be identified by name, said a study of the proposed site found no contamination, medical or otherwise.

The city also made clear the $100-million was merely the outside range of what it might provide, not a guarantee, and that universities were expected to compete on the amount they would contribute to the project, the official said...

... Cornell's president, David J. Skorton, and a university spokesman, Thomas W. Bruce, sidestepped several questions about the dispute, giving no firm indication of whether the university also would accept full liability for any toxic waste that might be found at the Roosevelt Island site or whether it would accept the plan without any guarantee of $100-million in city money....
The Applied Sciences Facility In New York City July 19, 2011 Request For Proposals had this to say about hazardous materials at the Roosevelt Island Goldwater Hospital campus site (Page 52):
Haz Mats
AKRF performed a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment at the RI Site in order to identify contamination issues that could affect future development (see Site File for Phase I). Initial analysis indicates that there may be lead in the topsoil on the RI Site and that the buildings will require lead and asbestos abatement. NYCEDC has commissioned Phase II testing on the RI Site, the results of which will be released in August 2011.
UPDATE 11:55 PM - Cornell wins. Will build school on Roosevelt Island.

26 comments :

Westviewer said...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Cornell, but the money the city is offering will go further for the Columbia and NYU proposals, which is why I suspect that they will be the winners. 

RIAlan said...

Does this mean I may rekindle my dream of having a south-facing condo overlooking the park, the ruin, the monument, LIC, Midtown and the Williamsburg bridge, not to mention possible fireworks in the future?  My disappointment at today's news would easily be assuaged.  (Especially if we can get a subway station at the Strecker Lab).

Westviewer said...

The NY Times just reported that Cornell has received a $350-million grant for the development of the Roosevelt Island campus.  Stanford was way behind in fund-raising. 

Bill Long said...

Stanford has endowment assets of $16.5 billion; Cornell's endowment is $5.8 billion. Whatever the back story is, it's not that Stanford was behind in fundraising.

Westviewer said...

Fund-raising for this project, that is.  It appears that there is far more support in the Cornell community for the campus than there was at Stanford. 

NYCIslander said...

This is great news, not everyone on this island is for this idea.  How about a project that directly benefits those who choose to live here. 

Westviewer said...

I know that, but I don't understand why people want the island to remain a dismal housing project.  

theohiostate said...

It would have been nixe to have an East Coast Silicon Valley, but I think Cornell is better suited for us - knowing the lay of the land much better.  I hope Cornell gets the nod.

NYCIslander said...

I couldn't agree with you more.  I didn't mean project as in housing project.  I was referring to whatever is built when the hospital closes. 

commonsense540 said...

This puts a damper on Hudson Related and the Management team at "exclusive" Riverlanding and their pending clueless ideas. I thought these guys were smart.

Ratso123 said...

I'm concerned about the phrase toxic cleanup.  What toxins are here.  Are they in the ground, or in the air or both.  Why would anyone want to build on the site if they have to pay for an extensive cleanup.  Is it safe to live here?????

westviewgirl said...

I agree with you, Stanford has shed some light on things at South Point...I hope there will be a full investigation and news is shares and the truth told. I was hoping Stanford would come in and check things out, and they did...now the let everyone know what they found. 

CheshireKitty said...

It is very interesting that only now are we learning about possible brown fields on RI - i.e. sites requiring extensive cleanup of toxins, such as with Superfund money.  

Was the toxic cleanup law in place when RI was first developed in the 70s?  Can the State please now tell us if we are indeed living on top of a toxic dumping ground, that did not require remediation back in the 70s but would require remediation today under current environmental laws?  

Letting us know this information will go a long way to tamping down the speculative real estate hype that has been underway on RI ever since Rivercross went coop and up to the construction of Southtown.  It also would be beneficial to the long-term patients as well as the workers of Goldwater and Coler to know if those facilities were in fact constructed atop brown fields.  We know RI was long a "dumping ground" for society's "undesirables" - the incurably sick, the poor, the mentally ill, the criminals.  Was RI also a dumping ground for toxic waste?  If so, are we, the current RI residents and hospital employees, at risk simply by living on RI?  

Let us hope the responsible people in Albany take a look at this unsettling situation and promptly reveal to all concerned -- RI residents and those employed by the hospitals (and Child School employees and students for that matter) -- the truth about brown fields on RI.  

Westviewer said...

Can you give me an example of the kind of thing you have in mind?

YetAnotherRIer said...

Leave it to Kitty to blow things way out of proportion, especially if the only source for this info is the NY Post. Let's just wait and see if we get any more info on this "toxic cleanup."

YetAnotherRIer said...

You really think that the overall endowments of both institutions have anything to do with raising funds for this specific project? I really doubt that.

CheshireKitty said...

The News also reported on the "environmental problems on RI" causing the deal to fall through.  We should of course wait for the grey lady to also report on the environmental problems before we can say with certainty RI has severe environmental problems.  

The problem has to be more substantial that a few gallons of diesel seeping into soil, for it to have scuttled the deal.

The frightening thing is that this is the way any of us find out about toxic contamination on RI, which is bad enough to require an expensive clean-up prior to beginning any construction.  I wonder if the toxic problem (and the expense involved in is remediation) will also put the kibosh on the Cornell deal.  

NYCIslander said...

I don't have a specific thing in mind, I just don't know how a graduate school campus would benefit me as a resident.  A movie theater/entertainment complex would be nice, so would a nice outdoor park/playground with an outdoor pool.  I don't know what the right answer is but whatever eventually is put there, I hope it's something that I (and the other Island residents) can visit, enjoy and take advantage of.  I have no use to visit a graduate school campus. 

YetAnotherRIer said...

Nope, it did not. I guess it was blown out of proportions.

CheshireKitty said...

RI is undoubtedly awash in lead and asbestos in its soil - from a hundred years of it flaking off the Queensboro Bridge.  It has to be all over the area of Southtown, and probably extends further north  as well.  Does anybody know if the lead and asbestos was removed before Southtown was built? 

CheshireKitty said...

Probably no healthier or safer than most other urban areas.  Lead and asbestos in the soil at the Goldwater site - what else is new?  Undoubtedly lead and asbestos is found in high concentrations in the entire zone beneath the Queensboro Bridge, from the UES to LIC/Queensboro Plaza, from having flaked off the bridge for over a hundred years.  I think lead leads (excuse the pun..) to neuro problems, and asbestos exposure to lung problems. So if anybody has had developmental/neurological or lung/breathing problems since moving to RI, you can blame the particles flaking off the bridge.. I'm sure there must be a website somewhere that tracks lead and asbestos in the air/soil in NYC.  Undoubtedly, many other areas (I'm thinking of DUMBO, which lies beneath two bridges) must have the same issues; it'd be interesting to know if residing in those neighborhoods really does mean the heightened risk of health problems.  

YetAnotherRIer said...

How about providing a link or some other source for your claim that "undoubtedly lead and asbestos is found in high concentrations in the entire zone beneath the Queensboro Bridge, from the UES to LIC/Queensboro Plaza, from having flaked off the bridge for over a hundred years"? 

Asbestos flaking off the bridge (assuming that a) there was asbestos used when the  bridge was built and b) if it was that it wasn't abated during the last renovation that just finished recently) would rather float in the air than just fall straight down. And I assume with lead you mean as in lead paint? Yeah, that's probable but how it could impact the soil under bridge in a way that toxic cleanup needs to be done is a mystery to me.

Westviewer said...

And no worse, either.  

CheshireKitty said...

Here is one link http://dspace.sunyconnect.suny.edu/bitstream/handle/1951/47933/KRAMER00.pdf?sequence=1.  But just put something like Queensboro bridge lead and asbestos patterns of contamination in NYC in Google and you will see many hits come up. 

YetAnotherRIer said...

Thanks for the link. Nothing RI specific and a lot of common sense and knowledge. I still don't see the connection between the Queensboro bridge and higher than normal levels of lead and asbestos in the bridge areas (besides, maybe, the fact that the bridge is a major traffic artery and environmental contamination is pretty much a given). I am still treating your comments in the context of the phrase "toxic cleanup" as mentioned in the Post and how you blew it out of proportions, btw.

CheshireKitty said...

Certainly Stanford didn't want to be stuck holding the bag on cleaning up the site.  Maybe it wasn't the only deal-breaker in the negotiations, and most likely Cornell had better prepared for the contest, but facing a not only lead & asbestos contaminated site but also a site containing an unknown amount of medical waste in the soil was potentially a big deal.  

Yet all these drawbacks of living in urban areas, especially areas that are recycled former industrial areas like Williamsburg or Greenpoint, which are atop an immense amount of toxic waste in the soil, is always downplayed by the media, the real estate industry, the Mayor's office etc.  Why would they possibly want to draw attention to the environmental problems in the hip areas of Western Queens and Brooklyn, and now Roosevelt Island as well, if that was going to scare away institutions of higher education, developers, or even just possible residents?  

The incidence of asthma, just one result of air pollution, is just about at the maximal level in the  rich and fashionable Upper East Side.  This isn't a fact that a real estate agent is going to stress when trying to sell/rent an apt to a customer.  

There is a reason why hundreds of thousands of NY & NJ residents migrate out annually.  Both states have  high levels of pollution/contamination call it what you will, from having once been centers of industry, which in years past was not so regulated vis-a-vis toxic waste etc.