Brooklyn, NY (June 18, 2013) – New York City, now the second leading tech hub in the nation, can overtake Silicon Valley in the top spot, according to a strategic plan released today by the Brooklyn Tech Triangle coalition. The strategy – which has broad public-, private- and academic-sector backing – calls for enhancing workforce development, increasing the availability of affordable real estate, and improving transportation and public environs, and points out that failure to take action now could jeopardize the city’s economic vitality. Focused on the areas between Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO and the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the plan is widely viewed as the model for creating innovation districts throughout the city.
The Brooklyn Tech Triangle is a magnet for innovation-based entrepreneurs and has emerged as the city’s largest cluster of tech activity outside of Manhattan. It is projected that in two years the area will support 18,000 tech-related jobs and 43,000 indirect jobs. However, a lack of appropriate commercial and light industrial space to support the innovation economy and an adequately trained workforce, among other factors, threaten to stifle this growth.
The Brooklyn Tech Triangle coalition seeks to address these challenges. If the Brooklyn Tech Triangle plan is fully implemented with support from government, the real estate community, tech firms and academic institutions, up to 4 million square feet of space in the Tech Triangle would be occupied by tech and creative businesses in 2015.
Funding and other support for the Brooklyn Tech Triangle initiative has come from Empire State Development Corporation, Office of New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, New York City Department of Small Business Services, New York City Council and Speaker Christine Quinn, Borough President Marty Markowitz, New York University, Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and the Brooklyn Community Foundation.
“The city has a golden opportunity in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “To seize it, we need to create space for tech growth and tap into our talent pools of local residents and students enrolled in the area’s 12 universities. This new strategic plan lays out specific ideas which will make the Brooklyn Tech Triangle the most attractive place for tech to set up shop and stay.”
The Brooklyn Tech Triangle coalition conducted an economic impact study of the tech sector in Brooklyn in 2012 that found there are more than 520 tech companies employing over 9,600 people, generating $3.1 billion of economic output and is poised to nearly double by 2015, requiring an additional 2.2 million square feet of office space. Following the study, the coalition formed a task force comprised of local tech firms, entrepreneurs, government representatives, real estate firms, area residents and civic leaders and educators to develop a strategic plan to capitalize on this upward trend.
“Innovative companies want to grow and create great jobs here. We have to unlock the potential of our real estate – the buildings that were home to New York’s industrial boom once before – to make sure they can do just that. We also have to unlock the potential of our local workforce to make sure they can give those jobs to New Yorkers for years to come,” said Alexandria Sica, executive director of the DUMBO Improvement District. “The Brooklyn Tech Triangle coalition looks forward to working with residents, companies and elected leaders to turn these ideas into reality.”
“This is an activation plan for the 21st century and a blueprint for ensuring that the surrounding communities can benefit from the economic opportunities emerging in the Tech Triangle and that innovation economy businesses can find the space to grow,” said Andrew Kimball, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation.
The Brooklyn Tech Triangle strategic plan lays out five key challenges that must be addressed in the area. Along with each issue area, the coalition proposes a number of specific initiatives, many in partnership with the city’s universities and agencies, which will entice tech talent and businesses. The issues and solutions are:
Space for Tech to Grow
Challenge: The area is running out of appropriate commercial space for tech.
- Activate key buildings including 700,000+ square feet of property owned by the Watchtower at Sands Street; 200,000 square feet of office space at the Empire Stores in DUMBO; 1.2 million square feet of commercial space surrounding Cadman Plaza and government-owned and occupied buildings such as the Municipal Building at 210 Joralemon Street, 65 Court Street, and the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse at 271 Cadman Plaza East. Move government tenants from DUMBO and preserve existing space in tech occupied buildings that have residential zoning options.
- Create a master lessee program to designate an organization to carry umbrella long-term leases and credit-worthiness on behalf of multiple short-term leases for tech firms.
- Designate a Special Innovation District to allow minimal residential density to subsidize the conversion of storage and warehouse buildings into new space for the innovation economy.
- Start a commercial modernization incentive program to encourage building owners to refurbish their buildings to meet tech needs such as creating open plan spaces by providing dollar-for-dollar matching amortization over five years.
- Allow for the transfer of air rights from buildings along the Fulton Mall to other properties within the Downtown Brooklyn District, provided owners on the Mall take action to transform the derelict upper floors of their buildings into space for the innovation economy to grow.
A New Tech Ecosystem
Challenge: The Tech Triangle could be – but isn’t yet – a new model integrating talent from local communities and universities with high-growth industries.
- Start a coder training program in Downtown Brooklyn to establish entry-level talent for Tech Triangle firms.
- Support curriculum alignment and information exchange between tech firms and universities to allow for tailored courses, job fairs and internships, expanded teaching by experts in the field, and other activities to ensure that students are prepared for the demands of the tech sector.
- Start a Tech Triangle Innovation Hub by partnering with a broad spectrum of technology businesses in and outside the Tech Triangle as well as higher education, particularly the City University of New York, to prepare local people and New York City students and workers for the jobs emerging from the tech sector.
Connections Across the Triangle
Challenge: It needs to be easier to get around the Tech Triangle.
- Create new bike corridors on Cadman Plaza East and Jay Street in addition to the Brooklyn Greenway plans for Flushing Avenue to create direct connections between Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, and the Navy Yard.
- Extend the B67 and B24 bus lines to establish routes through the Navy Yard, allowing more than one bus per 10 minutes from York Street station and providing connections to Williamsburg and Greenpoint on the eastern end of the Navy Yard.
- Create new ferry landings at the end of Jay Street and within the Navy Yard to expand the public transit options to the Tech Triangle.
- Design a new F train entrance on Jay Street and create a pedestrian linkage to the A/C entrance from High Street to Adams Street to facilitate significant transportation connections between Downtown Brooklyn and DUMBO.
Dynamic Places for Tech
Challenge: Parts of the Tech Triangle need an upgraded energy and vibe.
- Implement the Downtown Redux to create new retail frontages on Flatbush Avenue, and additional retail, food kiosks and amenities within MetroTech Commons.
- Create a new vision for Columbus Park, Clumber Corner and Cadman Plaza that would develop a cohesive greenway called the Brooklyn Strand. Bring in cafés, new lighting and an improved crossing of Adams Street to make this park space into a signature civic space in Brooklyn. Clumber Corner improvements would use the BQE off-ramp embankments and the NYC DOT staging area to create a space for tech workers to hang out.
- Create a Jay Street Crossing at Sands Street to improve the experience of pedestrians walking between Downtown Brooklyn and DUMBO.
- Implement Fox Square / Flatbush improvements to create a dynamic, pedestrian-friendly environment at the critical intersection where Fulton Mall meets Flatbush Avenue. Extend the Flatbush Avenue streetscape design from DeKalb Avenue to 4th Avenue to provide a critical connection from the Barclays Center and the Cultural District to Downtown Brooklyn.
Tech Triangle Interface
Challenge: The “tech” in Tech Triangle should be apparent to all.
- Implement Brooklyn BOLD (Building Office Leasing Downtown) to increase marketing efforts through model unit grant programs and leasing and design competitions targeted at tech firms.
- Set up ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage throughout the area.
In many cases, the Brooklyn Tech Triangle’s initiatives are projects that can leverage funding from both private and public sources and provide long-term benefits that exceed the up-front costs. In other cases, the initiatives will require City officials or State officials to make policy changes that support the growing tech community. The Brooklyn Tech Triangle coalition is in the process of working with officials, New York’s business communities and academic institutions to implement the ideas in its strategic plan.
The Brooklyn Tech Triangle strategic plan was prepared by a multi-disciplinary team led by WXY Architecture + Urban Design.