Governor Hochul: "...how can you change the very human experience around something that sounds as cold and detached as infrastructure? That's the legacy I want all of us to leave — that we create beauty and a sense of calm and just that people are getting places in a more uplifting way."
Hochul: "This is our test, and I know we're going to pass this test with flying colors because I believe in you. I believe in the Building Congress. I believe in this city and I believe in this state. Let's get it done. Stop talking, start building! That's my motto. Let's go forth and do great things."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks at the New York Building Congress 2023 Annual Luncheon.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Good afternoon. I just came down from Albany. Always happy to leave Albany. Had a stop in the Bronx, but I did not want to miss this event.
First of all, I have such high regard for your leadership. I've known Carlo for a very long time from his position to turning around the image of Brooklyn, almost single-handedly, to make it the most cool place around. And I want to thank him for the way he became such a dear friend over the many, many years. Also, Ralph Esposito is our Chair of the Building Congress. I want to make sure I have a chance to see him anytime I can for all the great work he's doing. And also, Cheryl McKissack Daniel, we always talk about how we support our women-owned businesses here in the State of New York, our MWBEs. I want to give Cheryl a special shout-out as Chair of the Building Congress.
I know you're going to hear from Kris Kolluri shortly. We were just together a couple days ago. Right, Kris? Where are you, Kris? Where? Oh, right there. Hey Kris, how are you?
What an event. Now, only the people in this room would get excited about, "Hey, we're starting to put in concrete casings. Whoa." Does that make your heart just drop? Only the people in this room. But it was a commitment, and once you start doing that, there's no going back. Right, Kris? So, the Gateway Tunnel has begun, and that has been talked about for at least five governors on our side of the river, and many, many others. So, we're moving projects along. And as Carlo mentioned, we were just together at Grand Central Madison. Have you gone to see that? It is beautiful. It is stunning. Although, the escalator is a little long. Now, I don't know what's wrong with that. I got asked by a reporter, "The ride up the escalator is like a minute and a half, almost two minutes. What are New Yorkers supposed to do for two minutes?" And I said, "Maybe they should just meditate, calm down a little bit."
When they come out of the dark underground to see how beautiful and uplifting the experience is with artwork from a world renowned artist in her nineties from Japan, I mean, it's extraordinary. That's the kind of imprint we're having as we build today. It's not just to put in projects in the ground and be done with it. It's how can you change the very human experience around something that sounds as cold and detached as infrastructure? That's the legacy I want all of us to leave — that we create beauty and a sense of calm and just that people are getting places in a more uplifting way. That's why I keep talking about why I want to get the Penn Station renovation done.
Because imagine how we can change the psychology of the New Yorkers who come through that kind of depressing experience if all of a sudden, they're on one level and there's natural light coming in, and they start to start looking at each other's eyes instead of shuffling along in the dark. This is transformative.
So, we have so many projects I'm so excited about — Interborough Express. Whoever thought it was a good idea that you had to — now, I love all my boroughs — but if you want to go from Brooklyn to Queens, but you have to stop in Manhattan first. I mean, come on, let's have a little logic here. Let's just make the connections in a smart way. So, we're going to build that as well. And Metro North and Penn Access and all the extraordinary projects, Second Avenue subway — I literally put on a hard hat and climbed into a manhole or a woman-hole, whatever we're calling them now, so, I'm holding the ground. And I went down there with Adriano Espaillat, and he was just so excited about what we can do to change people's lives by creating a connection from this part of our city to good paying jobs without having to take half a day to get to them. I want to thank all of you for being not just the doers, but the dreamers as well, the architects, the engineers, the landlords, the building owners, the developers, the, let me think - who builds all this?
Gary LaBarbera. Gary LaBarbera is doing a lot of this building. Let's give a round of applause to Gary LaBarbera. Yeah. And Vinny Alvarez. Is Vinny here? I want to make sure Vinny's represented here. If he's not, sorry, I don't know where you are, Vinny. But you have the hardest working men and women who are part of the workforce — they're extremely well trained. We're going to keep investing in our connections to get people trained in the jobs that were being created here.
But what you're working on now, and you don't think about it now because you're down there doing your jobs, making your contributions, but we will be judged by what we're doing in this post pandemic world, not just one generation from now, but multiple generations, just like we're looking back. We talked about the fact that the first tunnels were built in 1910. How audacious was that? And we think with a sense of awe about the people who said, who actually made that happen. You want to go further back? Go back to the Erie Canal, still one of the greatest feats of engineering on our planet done in the 1820s.
I want people to be in awe of what we do right now. I want people to look back and say, "My god, they were so smart, they're so creative, so innovative. They overcame every hurdle, and they made this city and this state a greater place to live, more affordable as we build more housing."
800,000 units we're going to build and I'm not looking back. I know there's some hurdles in front of us — I'm leaning into them because we have no choice. Because why do we have to build so much housing? Because people want to be New Yorkers. If people didn't want to be here, there would be a lot more for sale signs and for rent signs out there, and it would be more affordable, that's a statement of fact.
But we don't have the supply to meet the demand because this is where people want to be. They grew up here. They want to raise their kids in the same neighborhood. Young people who are leaving places like Silicon Valley, looking for great opportunities to connect with other smart people, they want to come here. And if we don't build the housing, then we failed. We failed to meet the moment. And I can't let that be our legacy in this time because we've been through so much together. We've overcome so much. And I don't need to mention hurricanes and 9/11 and the pandemic, the litany just keeps going on and on and on. But every single time, every single time, we come back stronger and more vibrant and we're in that moment now.
This is our test, and I know we're going to pass this test with flying colors because I believe in you. I believe in the Building Congress. I believe in this city and I believe in this state. Let's get it done. Stop talking, start building! That's my motto. Let's go forth and do great things. Thank you everybody.
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