In April, after years of planning, navigating the city’s long rezoning process and dealing with pushback from some community groups, RAL Companies finalized its deal with the city to build a 21-story tech hub on the site of a former P.C. Richard & Son building in Union Square.
“It’s a big step for the city, it’s a big step for the region, and it’s something different,” said Spencer Levine, RAL’s director of landscape architecture and site development.
“We hope that it becomes a model for other cities or even other areas within New York City.” While Zero Irving’s addition of a training center makes it unique, the New York City Economic Development Corporation has opened or invested in several technology hubs in the past decade to help grow the city’s burgeoning tech market.
“These offerings are what makes these physical places the place where the community wants to go, particularly in a city of the scale of New York City.
While San Francisco still has 74,880 more people in the labor pool, the tide has begun to shift to the East Coast in recent years as more workers want to get out of Silicon Valley and its traffic jams to move to New York City, said Stewart.
The EDC first stepped in to create tech hubs around the city in 2014 when it teamed up with New York University to open a 10,000-square-foot business incubator, the Urban Future Lab, at 15 MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn.
Ariño said the incubator proved to be successful but created problems for some companies that moved out, who then had to deal with navigating the city’s office environment; some ditched the city altogether.