University elaborates on NYC withdrawal

Jan. 9, 2012, 2:29 a.m.

Administrators responded to questions about the University’s Dec. 16 withdrawal of StanfordNYC, its $2.5 billion proposal to build a graduate school of applied sciences and engineering in New York City, in a press release published on Tues., Dec. 27.


On Oct. 26, Stanford submitted StanfordNYC and was considered to be the front-runner, along with Cornell University, to win New York City’s competition for a science and technology campus. After extensive negotiations with the city, Stanford withdrew its application on Dec. 16.


Three days after Stanford retracted its application to develop the 1.9 million square-foot campus and two days after Cornell appended a $350 million alumni donation to its proposal, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced he had chosen Cornell University’s proposal to build facilities on Roosevelt Island with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.


“During the negotiation process, the city introduced additional requirements that increased the risks and costs for Stanford and decreased the potential benefit,” the Dec. 27 press release stated.


According to the release, Bloomberg News and The New York Times, some of these additional matters included city building regulations and timeline penalties that the University was not comfortable with.


“From the beginning, Stanford expressed an interest in the project with the clear understanding that it had to benefit both Stanford and New York City,” the release said. “We were very much hoping for a successful outcome, but it became apparent that there were areas where the city and University were not going to agree. Beyond the academic part of the proposal, the project involved numerous land use, real estate, zoning, construction timetables with significant penalties and other details.”


“In a project of this nature, involving a significant investment by both the city and a much larger investment by the University, both sides need to be willing to accept a certain level of risk,” it continued. “Ultimately, we decided we could not accept the level of risk that the city wanted us to accept.”


In a speech at MIT in late November, 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.”


“I applaud the mayor’s bold vision for this transformative project and wish the city well in turning that vision into a reality,” Stanford President John Hennessy said in the Dec. 16 press release. “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 spent $3 million on the proposal in ‘due diligence’ toward a project that ultimately could have cost up to $2.5 billion. These initial costs included fees for architects and attorneys. The University previously estimated the proposal’s costs at $1 million.


Cornell will spend at least $2 billion to build a 2.1 million square-foot campus that will accommodate up to 2,500 students at a time. Cornell does not expect to complete the campus until 2043, but students will begin taking classes in pre-existing facilities starting next year.


The Dec. 27 press release shot down any notion that the decision to withdraw was influenced by Cornell.


“Stanford’s withdrawal was the result of our own negotiations and had nothing to do with Cornell’s bid,” it said. “Prior to our decision, there was no suggestion on the city’s part that Stanford’s bid was not the front-runner in the competition. In fact, all evidence available to us indicated the contrary.”


“I appreciate the tremendous effort put forth at all levels of the University and the city,” Hennessy said in the Dec. 16 press release. “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. 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.


Stanford stated its commitment to continue with [email protected], its partnership with the City College of New York (CCNY), to develop a joint degree program in technology and entrepreneurship. The University also announced that it will make its proposal available for public viewing at Green Library, subject to confirmation from NYCEDC that it may do so.

Billy Gallagher is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. He has previously worked at The Daily as editor in chief, a managing editor of news, news desk editor, sports desk editor and staff development editor. He is a junior from Villanova, PA majoring in Economics. He is also a writer for TechCrunch.

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