Monday, January 30, 2012

Stanford Says It Withdrew Bid For Roosevelt Island Applied Sciences Engineering School Because NYC Could Not Be A Trusted Partner

Proposed Roosevelt Island Campus From Stanford University/Ennead Architects, image by Redsquare, Inc.

Stanford University's withdrawal of it's proposed Roosevelt Island NYC Applied Sciences and Engineering School project was further explained in a Stanford Daily article today. According to the Stanford Daily:
Stanford withdrew its bid for a New York applied sciences and engineering campus because the city repeatedly revised the terms of its offer and could not be trusted as a reliable partner, said Stanford administrators, responding to media reports that Stanford was not adequately prepared for the tough negotiation style of New York officials....

... “There were issues about liability for…the environmental risks involved in the site,” Provost John Etchemendy Ph.D. ’82 told The Daily. “They wanted us to indemnify them for anything they had done, anything that had happened. So for example, if somebody sued about exposure to chemicals 20 years ago, we would have been liable; and that’s an example.”

Hennessy added that the city also backtracked on the amount of land they had promised. Originally, Stanford believed they would be granted land from shore to shore on Roosevelt Island. But New York cut back the land offer, which meant that Stanford would have to pay to buy additional land if they wanted to build the campus for which they originally planned.

Finally, Hennessy said Stanford could not see eye to eye with the city on how quickly the campus could scale up....

...  In New York, Roosevelt Islanders said they were shocked to hear that Stanford was withdrawing.

“Everybody was completely stunned beyond imagination; the news flew through the community like wildfire,” said Denise Shull, a common councilor on Roosevelt Island’s Residents Association Silicon Island Subcommittee.

Schull said she was disappointed that Stanford dropped their bid.

“From my perspective…the island was much more in support of Stanford. They just have a fabulous reputation. There’s just no two ways about it,” she said.

On the other hand, residents have also welcomed Cornell enthusiastically.

“In reflection, now that Cornell is going to be here, New York is going to be able to do its own thing, rather than be a satellite to Silicon Valley,” said Jonathan Kalkin, former director of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation....
Click here for entire Stanford Daily article.

The proposed site for the school at the current Goldwater Hospital is controlled by both New York City and New York State. The city controls the land underneath the Hospital building and the state controls the land five feet from the building's perimeter to the East River.

In response to my inquiry, a Stanford spokesperson added:
... our withdrawal had to do with the trustees and President Hennessy's concerns about the negotiations and level of risk to the university.  There was never at any time any discussion of Cornell's status as a purported leader, nor did we know anything about the Cornell/Technion gift until it was announced about 5 hours after we notified the city of our withdrawal. Stanford's withdrawal had nothing to do with our fundraising capability or concern about financing.
... the city was asking us to assume risk and liability beyond what our attorneys (both here and in NYC) advised was acceptable.  We worked with land use and real estate attorneys in NYC who are very familiar with city property deals (contrary to reports that we weren't prepared to negotiate with the city -- we were receiving very experienced and excellent counsel).  Those attorneys and others advised us that the terms being put forth by the city were unusual and not in Stanford's interest. Our trustees then also would not allow us to enter into those agreements.  They had to do with fines and penalties, such as for construction delays that may not be the university's fault, indemnifying the city in the event future issues arose, and a number of items that were going to substantially increase costs to the university....
The spokesperson's response was made last month.

More on Stanford's proposal and it's withdrawal from these previous posts as well as the December 20, 2011 press conference announcing Cornell/Technion being selected to build the NYC Applied Sciences and Engineering School on Roosevelt Island. Also, here is excerpt from December 20 Press Conference with Mayor Bloomberg and Cornell President David Skorton answering questions about Roosevelt Island.


Westviewer said...

Cornell, a New York institution to start, with a strong presence in New York City and Roosevelt Island to begin with, and an enthusiastic group of local alumni, is a much better fit, regardless of Stanford's rationales for withdrawing its bid.