Monday, February 20, 2017

Behold Civic Hall, the high-tech future of Union Square — and NYC

[EVG file photo]

As you may know, the city is redeveloping the city-owned site that P.C. Richard (and Son!) has leased the past 20-plus years at 124 E. 14th St. at Irving Place.

In late December, the de Blasio administration announced that RAL Development Services, a real-estate firm, will develop the site with Civic Hall — "a tech-focused work and event space" — anchoring the space.

And on Friday, de Blasio unveiled the renderings for the 20-plus story building that will be erected between NYU dorms...

And here is more from the city's news release on Civic Hall:

Mayor de Blasio met with tech workers at AppNexus today to unveil the latest designs and details for the new Union Square Tech Hub, a City-backed project to provide space for tech worker training, education, start-ups and convening.

The hub itself will generate 600 good paying jobs, and serve as a new home for Civic Hall that will include a digital job training facility for all New Yorkers, and modern, flexible workspaces designed to meet the unique needs of early-stage startups in New York’s vibrant innovation economy.

“This new hub will be the front-door for tech in New York City. People searching for jobs, training or the resources to start a company will have a place to come to connect and get support. No other city in the nation has anything like it. It represents this City’s commitment to a strong and inclusive tech ecosystem,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.


Currently the site of PC Richard & Sons Union Square, 124 East 14th Street will be transformed into a hub for civic innovation, job creation and fluid work and learning opportunities in a state-of-the-art tech-enabled facility. The 258,000 square-foot project will be developed by RAL Development Services and designed by Davis Brody Bond, and is expected to create more than 800 construction jobs. The project will be union-built and staffed, and in compliance with HireNYC guidelines.

The $250 million project on City-owned land, will bring together the best-in-class programs offering affordable digital skills training for New Yorkers seeking to join the 21st century economy – all in wired, open, and accessible workspaces. It will be anchored by Civic Hall, a collaborative work and event space advancing the use of technology for the public good. Civic Hall has grown to more than 1,000 members, including a diverse mix of community organizations, tech companies, city, state and federal agencies, and individual civic entrepreneurs. The new Civic Hall plans to include the following workforce development partners: the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education, General Assembly, Per Scholas, FedCap, Code to Work, and Coalition for Queens.

As for the renderings, Gizmodo noted: "14th street’s new tech tower looks like what would happen if you asked Ikea to build a white-collar prison" and also referred to the building as a "massive broken Rubik’s cube."

According to TechCrunch, the plan is to start construction in 2018 and open in 2020.

Updated: There were public meetings about the plans here via CB3 in December 2015.

EVG reader Charlie Chen, who shared these links, noted that the second rendering "is dead wrong, as in 2020, the L will still be closed and 14th Street will mostly likely be a bus/bike/pedestrian walkway."


Anonymous said...

Will PC Richard have first bid on the ground floor space? I mean, it's only fair, Bill. Oh, wait, you have other plans? Oh, if this doesn't generate jobs, we'll fall back on dorm space? Wait a minute, Bill, the connection is breaking up.

Anonymous said...

And the Technization of the LES continues....

Gojira said...

Let's play Guess That Travesty and decide what wins - that hideous edifice, the crock o' crap press release, or that clueless doorknob currently (but hopefully not for much longer) befouling Gracie Mansion. What? What's that you say? You can't decide? Me neither, so I guess that means it's all the of them. Oh my poor New York City, whatever did you do to deserve this?

hywel dda said...

Yes, it will fall back to dorm soon and the when the "educational facility" tax break runs out, it will be converted to LUXURY condos (see 3rd Ave.)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

oh my, let's now did a little deeper into this story to see who will be making a monetary killing on this project and who will be paying dearly for it. On paper this all sounds "too" good, but as we know paper just lies.

EV Grieve said...

As The Real Deal reported, RAL Development Services is "one of the companies behind a controversial residential project in Brooklyn Bridge Park."

Anonymous said...

Rivington House. Just keep repeating it so he keeps hearing it: Rivington House.

Guy is not a mayor, he's a developer.

Anonymous said...

...was there a public comment period? Meetings with area residents? Did we sleep through that? Kind of a Rip Van "Wink" thing going on here?

Anonymous said...

Please! spare me ...more bureaucratic drama!

blue glass said...

the more words the more bs
looks like a con
sounds like a con
not what we need
but as we are all forced out of the neighborhood this is just the type of space that the folks spending over a million for their co-op will be glad is here - and forget about the entry, training, all those buzz words.
it will be a flat out entertainment, luxury, glass, "tech-focused work and event space" with a roof wading pool bar and all the missing fun accoutrements that the hotel on east 11th street doesn't have room for -
oh, how many bars will it have?

dmbream said...

But the 139 existing coworking spaces weren't enough?

Anonymous said...

Ah the legions of carpers and whingers- let them take a photo of that dumpy PC Richards building, make it Sepia on their MacBooks, and hang it in their bathroom next to the one of the Manhattan Bridge being built.

Anonymous said...

The design of the building is no more horrible than that of the New School at 14th Street and Fifth Avenue. Great architecture demands a client willing to spend the money on something innovative. We don't have that in the buildings that have come to the East Village in the last decade and we are not likely to see it in the immediate future. The project of what will happen in this space seems a little confused. Is it a teaching space? A space for businesses to rent out? What we could really use is (a) a great library location and (b) some innovative restaurant group that would bring back Luchow's.

Anonymous said...

Smacks of another debacle like the ugly skeleton mausoleum oculus transit hub over old WTC subway nexus. Instead of riots over immigrants, we need to start demanding our cities back- cause WE are the indigenous refugees whiteknuckling inside USA from billionaire vultures

cmarrtyy said...

To the younger generation which is stepping into positions of power, digital is the answer to all problems from dating to famine. So Civic Hall is a great idea. If you've heard the phrase, "There's an App for that". In the future we might hear, "There's too many Apps for that". But hey, that where it's going. Luddites not admitted."

Anonymous said...

Belongs in the new Astor Place... errr Midtown South

Scuba Diva said...

At 10:58 AM, Anonymous said:

What we could really use is ... (b) some innovative restaurant group that would bring back Luchow's.

Where did that come from? Why do we need cholesterol-laden German food? You can still go to Rolf's for that, can't you? ("I was born in Düsseldorf, and that is vhy they call me Rolf!")

Seriously, Germans—particularly in Berlin—have gotten into veganism in a big way, so if an innovative restaurant group wanted to bring back a veganized Lüchow's, I'd be right there, man!

cmarrtyy said...

I understand nostalgia for the former EV but digital is now and the future. As the work force becomes younger, digital becomes the solution to all problems from dating to famine. Luddites need not apply to the future.

Anonymous said...

@1:54pm: And what happens to the currently "young" work force in 20 years? They get fired/downsized?

Is this the new tech-reality: You're only valuable if you are in your 20's or 30's, and "old" people need not apply to the future?

Do they expect everyone to save for retirement in just 20 years of work?

And what are people going to do when they're 40 or 45 and unemployable? The former young techies - what becomes of them? Are THEY then just old Luddites??

Reality is gonna bite hard.

blue glass said...

Blogger dmbream said... But the 139 existing coworking spaces weren't enough?

thanks for the map, stunning
food, coffee and happy hour - wow, let's go to work.
from the few links i looked at these coworking spaces are really an excuse to party, have events, eat & drink. why work?!co-working/c1cyv martini glass icon on events
Weekly Events Networking, happy hours, classes & workshops - we have events all the time and space for you to host your own.
Usually the first Thursday of the month, but February came a little too fast, so this month, join us on the second Thursday of the month. We'll be in the downstairs area of Merchant's Bar, which is cozy and has a fire going, and is usually super quiet. (Shhhhh.) Hope to see you there!

nuf said

NOTE: one did not go to Luchow's for the food, people went for the wonderful decor - even the bathrooms windows on 13th street (if i remember correctly) - all that stained glass, curved wood and deco.

Anonymous said...

Scuba Diva@1:31 Luchow's because when I first came to the East Village in the 1960s my friend the composer John Herbert McDowell would always go there at 4 PM for a drink and for the food they would bring out to lure in the Con Ed executives. I learned from him that you could sit at the bar and have two drinks and your supper. That's why Luchow's is etched in my memory. And yes, for the Christmas Tree that seemed to be up all year long. Your problem with "heavy" German cooking is your problem not mine.

Giovanni said...

At least if it's going to be a space that's open to the public. For too many years NYU has been taking over the buildings on 14th St. and closing them off to anyone but their students. I miss the Academy of Music where you could watch kung fu movies and westerns all weekend long, and dancing at the Palladium, at last until it turned into a drug bazaar being run by that one-eyed idiot who had to flee to Canada due to all of his legal problems.,and shooting pool at Julian's billiards upstairs. I'm just glad it's not going to be a tourist hotel or another NYU dorm.

Gojira said...

Rolf's is to German food as Slip My Campaign Unmarked $100 Bills De Blahsio is to Fiorello La Guardia. Horrible food, it's the decor that draws folks, nothing else. Why not German food? We have all kinds of vegan, vegetarian, and ethnic options down here, why should German be discriminated against? I'd want Luchow's back if they could also bring back that 19th century heavy carved dark wood interior. My fondest memory of the place was going there for Christmas Eve dinner in 1980 and having Harvey Keitel try to pick me up while my friends and I were waiting at the bar for our table. Ah, the good old days.

Anonymous said...

"the plan is to start construction in 2018 and open in 2020." Yeah, sure, because we know that construction in NYC *always* comes in on-time and under-budget, right?

Also, there is NO mention of what the demolition of PC Richard building, and then the construction of the new monstrosity will do to TOTALLY fuck up crosstown bus service on 14th St.

Now, combine THAT with what Mt. Sinai plans to do at the corner of 14th St. & 2nd Avenue and you have a perfect storm of near-permanent street-level gridlock in this area for YEARS. Did DiBlas or any other genius in city government give this issue ANY THOUGHT at all?

Or does it not matter, b/c the mayor and other officials live elsewhere and won't be inconvenienced by any of this?

Abfus said...

I think it's pretty self-evident why there's an impression that the "digital future" is only interested in workers in their 20s and 30s: just look at your comments! They are tinged with such a skepticism and such a hatred of things moving digital, that it's only natural for a digital-first company to be slow to hire people with those ideas.

Obviously, there's a lot of downside to some of the changes the internet is encouraging, but it's pretty inevitable that the future is based in a digital world. Do you really have any choice but to get on board?

Anonymous said...

...was there a public comment period? Meetings with area residents? Did we sleep through that? Kind of a Rip Van "Wink" thing going on here?

Appropriately the author of that story lived within in a couple of blocks of this building on "Irving" place.

Anonymous said...

I thought the Cornell project on Roosevelt Island was supposed to be the new tech center of NYC?

Also for once I agree with Gojira, bring back Luchow's!

Anonymous said...

@7:38pm: You have drunk the kool-aid that says the future is "based in a digital world" - so I presume you'll want "digital" care in the ER if you've broken your arm; if pregnant, you'd want a "digital" machine to handle all of your labor & delivery.

Of course you'll then want something "digital" to take care of your kids from ages 1-5. You'll want "digital" when you attend a concert (oh, wait, "digital" people don't do culture, b/c culture isn't digital enough...).

You'll also want "digital" to help you if you need physical therapy; you'll want "digital" for any funeral or memorial service; and you'll definitely want "digital" bartenders and wait-staff.

And what could be better than "digital-only" entities to teach school children, from kindergarten through end of college? We don't need to waste any money on salaries or benefits or social security on mere humans; we just need to digitize EVERYTHING!

Your slogan seems to be "Get rid of humans - they're too non-digital"!

Speaking as someone old enough to collect Social Security and who is ALSO more than competent in a "digital" world, I say you're buying into a very foolish ideal.

nutbeem said...