The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Williamsburg 'Tech Hub' Could Pave Way For More Office Towers

By Gwynne Hogan | February 10, 2016 12:23pm
 New renderings of an 8 story office, retail and manufacturing building coming to 25 Kent Ave. in Williamsburg. 
25 Kent Ave.
View Full Caption

WILLIAMSBURG — A planned "technology and maker hub" that could draw Silicon Alley startups across the East River is taking shape.

Developers unveiled more renderings on Tuesday of the 480,000 square foot, eight-story brick and glass office building designed with manufacturing space, two public plazas, a pedestrian cobblestone walkway and ground floor retail.

The project, located at 25 Kent St., came before the community board on Tuesday night as the first step in the city's complex approval process (ULURP) that will finish this spring.

Construction should be complete by the end of 2017 if everything goes according to plan, the developers said.

Heritage Equity Group and Rubenstein Partners, the two companies behind the project, are asking for permission for a change to the city's zoning code in the Greenpoint Williamsburg Industrial Zone so they can build more office space instead of "community facilities" like medical offices, which is what the zoning currently demands.

Instead of community facilities, the developers would set aside some floor area in the project for light manufacturing uses and more commercial office space. They're also asking for exemptions to a parking requirement and how many loading docks they have to build.

Whether or not the city approves the change, and how much manufacturing space the city requires in return, stands to set a precedent for industrial areas all across the city, and will allow all projects within one section of the Greenpoint-Williamsburg Industrial Zone to apply for the same special permit.

Hotels and clubs that have cropped up all throughout the neighborhood in the past decade, are allowed by the current zoning, and there are very few actual manufacturers left.

The zoning change would hopefully provide new incentives to to build actual manufacturing space as well as much needed office space, the developers behind the project said.

"The building of hotels, the opening of clubs, all those things aren't just going stop," said Raymond Levin, a lawyer representing the project in the ULURP process. "This is an opportunity hopefully for the city's economy, [and] jobs for people."

Toby Moscovits, a Heritage Equity co-founder, who is also a third-generation Williamsburg resident and a community board member, said she envisioned 25 Kent as a place that would support business growth in Williamsburg so the neighborhood is, "not just to be a live and play destination, but a place where people can work and open businesses."

City Councilman Stephen Levin and Anthony Reynoso as well as a handful of neighborhood residents, activists and business owners voiced support for the project at Tuesday's meeting.

"There really isn't a lot of office space here," said David Eisenman, who's Williamsburg-based advertising company Madwell employees 65 people. "We struggled to find office space, converting empty warehouses that sat vacant [and we had to] put a lot of money into them."