Thursday, March 1, 2018

Report: CB3 OKs proposal for Union Square tech hub; calls for zoning protections

[Photo via GVSHP]

News out of the Community Board 3 meeting on Tuesday night: The full Board approved a land use application to create the tech hub on 14th Street. In doing so, CB3 also included an amendment in their resolution calling for zoning protection, per published reports:

“Consistent with previous board support for rezoning the Third and Fourth Avenue corridor, including the December 2017 board resolution, CB3 urges the city to commence the process of rezoning this area as well as incentivize affordable housing and exclude certain use groups such as hotels and big box stores.”

According to, more than 200 people turned out for the meeting at P.S. 20 on Essex to discuss the proposed 21-floor building that would rise on the current site of the now-former PC Richard complex on 14th Street at Irving Place.

As previously reported, the new building would house a digital skills training center, flex-office space for startups, market rate office space and a food hall. (You can read the city's official release on the project from 2017 here.) City officials say the hub itself would create 600 jobs.

CB3’s vote Tuesday night was the first step in the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. Next stops for the application: Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer's office and the City Planning Commission ... before a vote by the New York City Council later this year.

Following the meeting, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, who has led the efforts behind a rezoning of the area to enforce some height restrictions and affordable housing requirements, issued a statement:

"This sends an important message to Mayor de Blasio and developers that we do not want the East Village and Greenwich Village transformed into Silicon Alley or Midtown South. A Tech Hub on 14th Street which provides training and services to New Yorkers and small start-ups can be a valuable addition to our city; but it must be accompanied by zoning protections for the surrounding residential neighborhood which ensures that tech and other development doesn't push out longtime residents and businesses, or fundamentally change the character of these neighborhoods.

What we are proposing is a win-win – the Tech Hub proceeds on 14th Street, and the Mayor lives up to his rhetoric about preserving and promoting affordable housing by advancing this rezoning for the surrounding area that would prevent out of scale development and encourage affordable housing development and preservation. So far he has adamantly refused, only supporting the zoning changes for the Tech Hub, which is to be developed by his campaign donors. We hope he will now listen."

You can read a lot more via coverage at The Lo-Down ... Patch ... and

Updated noon:

Here's a news release from RAL Development Services, one of the partners in the project, via the EVG inbox:

On Tuesday evening, Community Board 3 voted unanimously in favor of a resolution supporting site specific rezoning and a special permit to allow the development of the proposed tech training center at 124 East 14th Street, the former P.C. Richard site, by RAL Companies to proceed.

Community Board approval of the 124 East 14th Street development was not conditioned upon any broader rezoning being enacted. The final text of the Community Board resolution requested the City to consider a broader rezoning in the area, but did not connect that process to the approval of 124 East 14th Street.

“We’re thrilled to receive the Community Board’s unanimous support for our proposal, which is designed to fit within the City’s broader plan to expand and diversify the tech workforce,” said Josh Wein, Financial Director of RAL Companies. “We look forward to proceeding through the ULURP process and are thankful for the opportunity to develop this exciting project with its full community benefit intact.”

124 East 14th Street will be a training and education center for all New Yorkers regardless of race, gender, age, or immigration status. It will establish a new model for inclusive community and economic impact, one that embraces and interacts with its local community, and supports emerging and existing local entrepreneurs and industries, in the heart of New York City at Union Square. The 240,000 gross square foot, multi-level project will include a Public Food Hall, Civic Hall — a communal and collaborative workspace for social change-, an Event Space, a Digital Skills Training Center, Step Up Office Space, and Modern Class-A Office Space.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Behold Civic Hall, the high-tech future of Union Square — and NYC

Speaking out against a 'Silicon Alley' in this neighborhood

P.C. Richard puts up the moving signs on 14th Street; more Tech Hub debate to come


Anonymous said...

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation must be commended for its tireless work on this and other city hall (developer) threats to our neighborhood. I was at this meeting and am grateful to all that attended.

Anonymous said...

There are two problems with "encouraging affordable housing". The first is the notion of encouraging it, instead of actually building it. Offering tax incentives hasn't resulted in any significant construction. The second problem is with what they consider to be affordable. Too many "affordable" apartments are anything but, for most people.

Otherwise, I think the tech hub is a great idea.

Anonymous said...

What kind of tech training are they talking about ?
Does anyone know ?

Reminds me of the family guy episode where Lois is running for a mayoral debate,
no one is listening, and she says 9/11 and then everyone agrees.

If Deblasio says, tech and startup - everyone agrees and cheers ? Yipee !
Wonder if there will be lots of exclusions.