June 17, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg had a rare meeting with his successor on Roosevelt Island on Tuesday, to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Cornell Tech campus and donate $100 million to the project.
In 2011, Bloomberg announced a partnership with Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to build a $2 billion, two million square foot science and engineering campus on Roosevelt Island.
The project is a result of a challenge initiated by the Bloomberg administration to institutions worldwide to build an applied sciences and engineering campus on City-owned land.
“When we announced the applied sciences competition four years ago, I mentioned that over the course of New York’s history, many of City government’s best decisions didn’t result from an immediate need, but in fact from a long term vision,” Bloomberg said at the groundbreaking. “I’m a big believer in the importance of this project to the City’s future, and that’s why I was pleased to make a gift to support it.”
Bloomberg made the $100 million donation in honor of his daughters Emma and Georgina. The first Cornell Tech academic building to be constructed will be called the Bloomberg Center.
While Bloomberg has typically been a target of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s criticism, kind words were exchanged while the two shared a stage.
“I want to give Michael Bloomberg a true compliment, because he doesn’t usually do things half-way,” de Blasio said. “He believed in this vision and this possibility for New York City, and largely due to his will and his sense of vision, we are here today. And it is greatly, greatly intensified by the extraordinarily generous gift he has made to further this work.”
Following the groundbreaking, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney released a statement heralding the campus’ impact on its Queens neighbors.
“Cornell Tech will transform this island into a thriving tech hub and will bring new jobs across the bridge in Western Queens,” Maloney said. “I believe that the increase in people will create a demand for more restaurants, coffee shops, stores and other amenities.”
Cornell University estimates that more than 1,000 campus and construction jobs will be created at the Roosevelt Island site, according to an infographic posted on the school’s website.
Construction has already started on the Cornell Tech campus; its first classrooms are expected to open in 2017, according to the EDC.