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Mayor Bloomberg Narrows Field For New City Tech Campus

By Jill Colvin | November 30, 2011 3:57pm
A rendering of the Cornell/Technion proposed engineering and applied science campus for Roosevelt Island.
A rendering of the Cornell/Technion proposed engineering and applied science campus for Roosevelt Island.
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MANHATTAN — It’s down to four... maybe?

The city has narrowed its choices for a new city-subsidized high-tech university campus, which could end up on Roosevelt Island, down to four, knocking three contenders out of the race, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday.

“We had 27 applicants. We whittled it down to seven. I think we've told three that they’re not going to make it and that we’re working with the last four,” the mayor told an audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Tuesday.

But when the mayor was pressed for details Wednesday on the ousted schools, he appeared to backtrack.

“I don’t know that the four is the right number, incidentally," he told reporters at a press conference in Queens.

A spokeswoman for the mayor did not immediately respond to requests for clarification.

The mayor refused to say Wednesday which bids are still in the running.

"No," he told reporters, when asked point blank.

But the mayor did provide some hints on who might be left.

“Stanford is desperate to do it, I’m not exaggerating,” he said at MIT. “Cornell is desperate to do it. I'm not exaggerating there. There are a couple of other schools that have a really good chance as well.”

On Wednesday, he said that some of the applications just didn't make the cut.

”There were a couple that just... didn’t meet the criteria. They weren’t going to build the kind of school here that we need," he said.

Still, he reiterated, “It’s a heated competition."

The city received seven bids from 17 institutions to build the city’s next major engineering and applied campus, an opportunity that could come with a chunk of city land as well as up to $100 million in public funds to kickstart development.

Bidders range from engineering powerhouses like Stanford and Carnegie Mellon, to dark horse candidates like India’s Amity University.

Cornell University, which has teamed up with the Israeli heavyweight Technion, has proposed a new campus on Roosevelt Island, which would be home to the east coast's largest net-zero energy building — one that creates as much energy as it consumes.

Stanford, which submitted a joint proposal with the City University of New York (CUNY), has also eyed Roosevelt Island, and submitted plans for another green school that would use 50 percent less energy than a level that is already considered efficient.

Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Mellon proposed a new campus on the abandoned Navy Hospital at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where it reportedly wants to create a new entertainment technology center in partnership with Steiner Studios, and Columbia University submitted a bid to expand its footprint uptown with a new Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering as part of its $6 billion Manhattanville expansion plan.

New York University submitted a proposal to build a new Center for Urban Science and Progress in Downtown Brooklyn’s One Metrotech Center, which would focus on helping cities improve energy efficiency, reduce congestion and pollution, and the New York Genome Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Rockefeller University and SUNY Stony Brook submitted a proposal for a new facility in Midtown Manhattan that would focus on genome sequencing.

The campus bid is part of a larger push by the Bloomberg administration to lure engineering talent and new high-tech startups to the city, in a bid to rival Silicon Valley.

“The bottom line is that a lot of people that come out of these applied science or engineering schools will start companies right where they have spent time going to school. And we’re in a big battle for jobs in the city,” Bloomberg said.

“The future really, to some extent, is going to be technology.”