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City kicks off the public review process for Union Square tech hub

The proposal will next be heard by Community Board 3 on February 7

Rendering via NYCEDC

The proposed tech hub at Union Square has officially moved into the public review process. The city’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), which is the city agency overseeing the development of the Hub, presented the proposal to the City Planning Commission Monday afternoon, the first step in the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

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.

“As we work to grow jobs in our innovation economy, we must also create strong talent pipelines into our neighborhoods,” said James Patchett, president of NYCEDC, in a statement. “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.”

It seems unlikely that the building’s public review will move forward without some community pushback however; In November, dozens of local residents held a protest against the Union Square Tech Hub, and several other planned developments in the vicinity due to the projects’s potential to displace longterm residents with escalating rents.

The project will next go up for review at Community Board 3 on February 7. Commissioner Anna Hayes Levin of the City Planning Commission aptly described what the next few months will be like for the tech hub.

“I know this is going to be a lively public review,” she said, at Tuesday’s meeting.