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Cornell Tech Breaks Ground On Roosevelt Island Campus

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Announcing a $100 million donation, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined his successor Tuesday to break ground for Cornell University's new high-tech campus in New York City.

Bloomberg and Mayor Bill de Blasio toured the Cornell Tech site before announcing the gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies that will help fund the construction of the new campus on Roosevelt Island.

The first academic building will be known as the Bloomberg Center in honor of Bloomberg's daughters, Emma and Georgina.

Cornell Tech Breaks Ground On Roosevelt Island Campus

Bloomberg, an engineering major in college, said building a high-tech college campus in the heart of New York City was a long-term vision he had while in office that will bring "thousands of jobs."

"New York became the greatest city in the world because we dare to dream bigger than anyone else, and this project, I think, is part of that tradition,'' he told the crowd.

Cornell Tech was founded in December 2011 when it was selected as the winner of an applied sciences initiative by the New York City Economic Development Corp., which sought proposals to build a campus that would spur the growth of the tech industry in partnership with the city. Classes began in January 2013 at a temporary location in Manhattan donated by Google.

Cornell Tech Breaks Ground On Roosevelt Island Campus

"This is how you build a future, and it's happening right before our eyes,'' de Blasio said.

Cornell Tech Dean Dan Huttenlocher said nearly 100 students have already graduated in the last two years, including 75 students last month.

De Blasio said New York City's tech reputation has grown quickly in recent years.

Cornell Tech Rendering
A rendering of the Cornell Tech campus planned for Roosevelt Island. (Credit: Cornell University)

"More and more leaders came here and found it the indispensable place to be and that trend is growing," he said.

The groundbreaking was the first time the two mayors have appeared together in public since de Blasio took office in January 2014.

The atmosphere at the groundbreaking started off frostily, WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reported.

Cornell Tech Campus
A rendering of the Cornell Tech campus planned for Roosevelt Island. (Credit: Cornell University)

For many minutes, de Blasio and Bloomberg stood in separate gaggles not speaking to or acknowledging each other.

But later in his remarks, de Blasio went out of his way to praise Bloomberg.

"Largely due to his will and his sense of vision, we are here today," the current mayor said.

The Cornell Tech campus, which will span 12 acres, will include academic buildings, offices and a residential housing complex. Students will be housed in the first residential high-rise in the world that meets "passive house sustainability standards" that consumes 60 to 70 percent less energy than typical building of the same size, de Blasio said.

Huttenlocher said he's ecstatic construction on the campus is getting started.

"The Roosevelt Island location is really the perfect place for this new campus because, on the one hand, it's right in the heart of New York. The F train is right there. We've been calling the F train the tech train because of the neighborhoods that it runs through -- Flatiron, Chelsea, out into DUMBO and Downtown Brooklyn," Huttenlocher told Lamb.

The campus is expected to open in 2017.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



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