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Hot Air Balloon, New Parks Come With Brooklyn's Tech Boom

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The Brooklyn Tech Triangle unveiled its masterplan for a geek-filled tech-centric neighborhood stretching from Downtown to Dumbo to the Navy Yard, and the plan envisions an area not only filled with 4.4 million-square-feet of high-tech offices, but also littered with new green spaces. The star of the show? Brooklyn Rising, a giant tethered observation hot air balloon that would hoist 30 visitors at a time 600 feet into the air. It'd be located in an under-used area sandwiched between the Brooklyn Bridge and BQE, and it would be joined by a terraced lawn and public plaza. The Post outlines a lot more public amenities, including a new dog run, a cafe on Cadman Plaza, a topiary arbor, new pedestrian bridges linking streets, and a "tech terrace" with an interactive digital screen.

The public spaces are clearly the most fun part of the proposal for us laypeople, but the plans to create more commercial office space and lure tech companies are the most important. The Tech Triangle study estimates that there will be a demand for 2.2 million-square-feet of more tech space over the next decade, so where will these offices go? Crain's breaks down this part of plan, which calls for repurposing disused warehouses and rezoning certain blocks to allow for more development. The largest area eyed for a makeover is four blocks of warehouses across from the Brooklyn Navy Yard along the BQE. If reborn as commercial space, this would equal 60 percent of what's available in Dumbo. Since developing commercial space is not as lucrative as residential space, special zoning rules would create an "inclusionary office space" program to allow developers to convert the warehouses into apartments if they set aside space for tech companies.

Another zoning change would target buildings along the Fulton Street Mall. The upper floors of most of these buildings are vacant since landlords can fetch up to $250/square foot for the street-level retail space. There's no money to be made by renting out the top floors as they are, so the Tech Triangle proposes letting landlords sell their air rights if they agree to renovate the upper floors of their buildings.

Many of the Tech Triangle's proposals will take some time to implement, but the city is already working to jumpstart the tech takeover. The Daily News reports that the city Economic Development Corporation and NYU-Polytech are launching a 10,000-square-foot clean tech incubator at 15 MetroTech. Called the Clean Technology Entrepreneur Center, it will have space for 20 startups focusing on sustainability, green energy, and climate change. The city currently runs two other NYU-Polytech incubators in the city, and they have generated $251 million in economic activity and created 900 jobs. The EDC will invest $750,000 in the Brooklyn development over the next two years, and the city sees the incubator as an anchor for the Tech Triangle.

· Brooklyn Tech Triangle [official study]
· A Peek at $3 Billion Brooklyn of the Future [NYP]
· Huge Expansion of Tech Space Eyed in Brooklyn [Crain's]
· Downtown Brooklyn to Get Clean Tech Incubator That Will House up to 20 Startups [NYDN]
· Brooklyn Tech Triangle coverage [Curbed]