The internet fund-raising darling Kickstarter will leave Manhattan for new offices in an old pencil factory in Greenpoint — marking the biggest coup for North Brooklyn’s burgeoning tech community so far.
The web company will bring its 45 employees to the landmarked Eberhard Faber Pencil Company building on Kent Street next year, a designer for architect Ole Sondresen said. The move won’t just give the “crowd-funding” company more space for its growing staff — Kickstarter’s arrival could help turn Greenpoint into a tech mecca, neighborhood boosters claim.
“It proves that if these companies can find the space, this is where they want to be,” said William Harvey, a sculptor, designer, and longtime champion of development in North Brooklyn. “Kickstarter shows that we have everything these companies want.”
Greenpoint is better known for its smoked sausages and wastewater treatment plant than its Silicon Valley-style businesses — but the arrival of a brand as well known as Kickstarter could change all that, said neighborhood tech advocate Andy Smith.
“Kickstarter is moving to Greenpoint for the same reason so many start-up companies are springing up here: it’s unique, it allows for innovation, and has space for companies to grow,” said Smith, who designs the curriculum at the Nassau Avenue co-working space the Yard — where Greenpoint’s webbiest workers share office space.
“With a high-profile company like Kickstarter coming here, it’s a real catalyst for Greenpoint’s growth,” he said.
In fact, the arrival of the company — which earned acclaim for streamlining the way people donate money to creative projects — could open a third front in Brooklyn’s tech civil war.
DUMBO has long been the borough’s leading digital district, but rising rents and a lack of available space have steered some would-be tenants to Downtown in recent years. City officials have pushed to make Downtown more desirable for tech companies, but some tech businesses seem to prefer hipper quarters further to the north.
“There are more tech companies in Greenpoint than people realize,” said Smith. “Greenpoint is more exciting and innovative than DUMBO. You don’t need a crystal ball to see that we’re the future.”
Kickstarter has already won the approval of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission for a plan that calls for renovating the building between Franklin and West streets and adding an interior courtyard while retaining the structure’s aging industrial aesthetic, according to CityLandNYC.
A spokesman for Kickstarter could not reached for comment by press time, but the New York Post reports that the company plans to spend $7.5 million acquiring and fixing up the building.