Mayor Bloomberg just finished up a press conference to discuss the submissions for the city’s RFP to remake New York in Silicon Valley’s image.
“They were all more serious than we thought!” he said, sounding somewhat surprised.
Did he think universities wouldn’t want a chance for $100 million to build on city-owned land?
Seven proposals matched the city’s criteria. Pitches came from a combined 17 universities including ones from Canada, Israel, England and two separate pitches from India.
“There was somebody for all three of the locations,” said the mayor, referring to the city’s three proposed sites (Roosevelt Island, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Governor’s Island). Although it sounded like one of the Indian candidates was the only taker on the latter. Sorry, guv’nor.
The mayor also made it sound as though location might be something the city negotiates later on in the process. “I’ve always thought if you want a vertical campus, there’s the World Trade Center,” he said, although that’s the first we’ve heard of it.
The message to candidates, reiterated several times, was that there is no front-runner. “Anyone who thinks they have it locked up has a bad mistake,” said Mayor Bloomberg, adding, “There’s none you can throw out and say, ‘Well it’s frivolous.'”
In fact, when NYC EDC President Seth Pinsky mentioned the kind of results the city was hoping to achieve, he name-dropped MIT (whose graduates started companies that bring in revenues of $2 trillion a year) and pointedly not Stanford—who is rumored to have an advantage.
When asked about the possibility of multiple winners by the press corps, Mayor Bloomberg said he wished he could take all seven, but emphasized that he’d “leave it to the advisory panel and Seth and Bob,” (referring to Mr. Pinsky and Bob Steele, deputy mayor of economic development.) NextJump founder Charlie Kim, who shared the podium, is also on the selection committee.
One deciding factor will be the applicants’ ability to raise funds to meet their specs, said the mayor before noting that the city didn’t have the budget to contribute more than $100 million.
“The city has lots of problems and obligations,” he explained. “Let’s leave it at that.”