The New York City Council voted unanimously to approve the Union Square Tech Training Center, at a meeting on Wednesday. The full Council vote yesterday followed the approvals issued by the Council zoning and land use subcommittees earlier this month. In those meetings, the local City Council member representing the area the tech center will rise in, threw in her support behind the project, which essentially assured the project’s approval on Wednesday.
The project has divided local residents; many are excited that the center will open tech jobs to low-income New Yorkers and people of color, but others are skeptical that a new 21-story tower in the neighborhood will spur similar large development in the area in the coming years.
Carlina Rivera, the Council member representing this area, partly campaigned on the issue of the tech training center during her election campaign last year. She said she would push for a rezoning south of 14th Streets to protect the neighborhood against future overdevelopment. While she voted for the training center despite the overall rezoning, she did manage to squeeze in some neighborhood protections into the deal.
For instance, seven buildings located along Broadway will now make their way to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, to be considered for protection. Rent stabilized tenants living within this area will be further informed about their rights on a priority basis by the city’s Tenant Protection Unit. Rivera also ensured that the Merchant’s House would be protected from any neighboring development, according to the Lo-Down.
Neighborhood groups like the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation felt Rivera did not do enough. The group’s executive director, Andrew Berman, issued the following statement:
“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,” Berman lamented.
As plans stand right now, the tech training center, developed by RAL Development Services, will create a co-working space, an affordable digital skills training center, office space for startups, a retail and market area operated by Urbanspace on the ground floor, and traditional office space on the upper levels. The project will be built at an estimated cost of $250 million and replace the former P.C. Richard & Son building on East 14th Street.