Public Review Process Begins for Union Square Tech Hub

Rendering of the Tech Hub in Union Square. (Photo via NYCEDC)

The phase of public review has officially been reached by the proposed tech hub to be located at Union Square.

On Monday afternoon, January 29, the city agency overseeing the Hub’s development, the Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), presented the proposal to the City Planning Commission, thus completing the first step in the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

According to Curbed, “The site, which is the current home of the P.C. Richard & Son store on East 14th Street, needs to be upzoned in order for the 21-story tech hub to be built. While the P.C. Richard & Son building will be demolished, the Genesis building that abuts it will not be affected. The new building will be sandwiched between NYU’s University Hall and its Palladium Athletic Facility. The project will be developed by RAL Development at a cost of $250 million with Davis Brody Bond designing the tower. Among the building’s many features include a retail space on the ground floor with a food hall; a co-working space known as Civic Hall; a training center and classrooms; office space for smaller companies; and traditional office space on the upper floors. A spokesperson for the EDC said the building was designed in such a way that it allowed someone who was just breaking into the industry to slowly grow their business and potentially expand it within the building itself.”

In a statement, NYCEDC president James Patchett said, “As we work to grow jobs in our innovation economy, we must also create strong talent pipelines into our neighborhoods. This project will connect young people in surrounding communities with the skills they need to participate in the modern economy. We are excited to begin the public approval process and look forward to finding even more ways for community members to benefit from this great project.”

However, there is likely to be pushback from the community before the public review for the building can move forward. A protest against the Union Square Tech Hub and other developments planned nearby, was held by dozens of local residents in November. Protestors claim that the projects could potential displace many long-term residents by increasing rents.

On February 7, the project will be up for review at Community Board 3. The atmosphere surrounding the tech hub over the next few months was rightly described by Commissioner Anna Hayes Levin of the City Planning Commission. At a meeting on Tuesday, January 30, she said, “I know this is going to be a lively public review.”

By Mark Snyder