City Council yesterday unanimously approved the mayor's plan for the 21-story Union Square Tech Training Center at the former P.C. Richard site on 14th Street at Irving Place.
This was the last stop in the approval process for the project, which is being developed jointly by the city’s Economic Development Corp. and developer RAL Development Service. The 240,000-square-foot building will feature Civic Hall, which will offer tech training for low-income residents, as well as market-rate retail and office space. (Last week, Microsoft reportedly provided a $100,000 grant for the planning and development of the Tech Training Center.)
The de Blasio administration proposed the so-called tech hub as part of the mayor's "New York Works" initiative, which they believe will create up to 600 jobs.
The vote yesterday came despite the pleas of some residents, activists, small-business owners and community groups who have long expressed concern that the rezoning necessary for the project would spur out-of-scale development on surrounding blocks.
District 2 City Council member Carlina Rivera emerged as a pivotal player in the tech-hub drama. As Crain's reported yesterday:
During her campaign, Rivera had promised to seek a separate rezoning for the surrounding neighborhood to establish height limits and, in some cases, cap commercial square footage in exchange for her support of the hub. The administration had balked at the idea of curtailing office space, and a compromise was expected to take the form of landmarking some buildings and requiring special permits for new hotel development.
In a statement to amNY, Rivera said: "I am voting yes today for a tech hub that will bring true community benefits, tech education, and workforce development services that will finally give women, people of color, and low-income New Yorkers access to an industry that has unfairly kept them out for far too long." (See below for a statement that Rivera sent her constituents yesterday afternoon.)
The Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation, which had lobbied for protections for the surrounding neighborhood as a component of the tech-hub plan, released this statement from executive director Andrew Berman:
The City Council's deal approves the Mayor’s Tech Hub with just a fraction of a fraction of the protections the surrounding neighborhood needs and called for, and which Council member Rivera promised to condition her vote upon. The approval of the Tech Hub will accelerate the transformation of the adjacent Greenwich Village and East Village neighborhoods into an extension of ‘Midtown South’ and ‘Silicon Alley,’ which many developers and real estate interests have already begun to call them. It’s a shame that the Mayor is so invested in protecting his real-estate donor friends that he would not consider real but reasonable zoning protections for the area that would have prevented this kind of unnecessary development, and encouraged residential development that includes affordable housing.
Here's reaction to the vote via Twitter...
Proud 2 work 4 a strong Latina - born & raised in the LES - who gave #District2 residents, especially our Black & Brown communities, workforce & training opportunities. It's not everyday a kid from the PJs can experience this reality but because of @CarlinaRivera it will happen.— John M Blasco (@JBlascoNYC) August 8, 2018
Big thanks to NYC Councilwomen @CarlinaRivera for her leadership and support for @civichall's tech training center on14th St, which the council approved today. The community benefits will be substantial and long-term. #civictech— Micah Sifry (@Mlsif) August 8, 2018
Really proud of my @NYCCouncil sister @CarlinaRivera. These things are NEVER easy but CR managed to thread the needle with skill & grace ensuring benefits reach the communities that need them most AND that the surrounding neighborhoods are protected. Boom. https://t.co/OSNDRalIcY— Justin Brannan (@JustinBrannan) August 8, 2018
In particular, I need to thank my Councilwomen @CarlinaRivera for balancing the demands of facilitating @civichall's project, so that the TechHub will fulfill its mission of providing jobs training & activating civic engagement, while ensuring all her constituents can thrive. https://t.co/YwCjrdLGaC— Jerry Weinstein (@tummler10) August 8, 2018
@CarlinaRivera You sold us out. I thought you were good on protecting our community.— Susan Schindler (@SusanSchindler) August 8, 2018
The "local protections" are a fraction of a fraction of what we were fighting for, what we need, & what you promised to condition your vote upon. This will result in an acceleration of bad=out-of-character development in Greenwich Village+E. Village: https://t.co/2PhJeEDKKs— GVSHP (@GVSHP) August 8, 2018
Give me a break. These "protections" are paltry. You sold out the community, and we won't forget it.— Lloyd Bergenson (@dieterknickbock) August 8, 2018
Shame on you, @CarlinaRivera. I voted for you because you promised to make zoning restrictions in our community your top priority. You did no such thing with your vote. Is this how you keep commitments to your constituents? https://t.co/8tsxY8xv6l— daisy17 (@daisy17) August 9, 2018
And here's Rivera's letter — this link goes to the full version, which outlines her rationale for the yes vote...
Please read my letter to my community about today’s vote. The Tech Hub will build a bridge for our neighbors to great jobs & with local protections secured. We will continue working towards preservation & making our neighborhood stronger. https://t.co/rmIST9vZ3j pic.twitter.com/rZtyzMjXVE— Carlina Rivera 利華娜 (@CarlinaRivera) August 8, 2018
Meanwhile, an EVG reader shared this photo from Tuesday... the reader reported that several of these flyers were posted near the 6 stop at Astor Place...