NYU is up on Downtown thanks to latest Metrotech leases

NYU is up on Downtown thanks to latest Metrotech leases
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

NYU is expanding its existing Polytechnic Institute to include two more buildings in Metrotech Center, a move that borough officials cheered as a magnet for Downtown development — and a sign that university is serious about Brooklyn.

NYU-Poly signed a 20-year lease with Forest City Ratner for space in Metrotech Center, a campus of 11 mixed-use buildings between Flatbush Avenue Extension and Jay Street, where space has recently been going cheap.

“The increased student population will be a boon for businesses and attract greater private investment to the area,” said Borough President Markowitz.

The engineering school will move into the sixth floor at 15 Metrotech, replacing a departing insurance company. It will also take over the ninth and 10th floors at 2 Metrotech.

NYU-Poly already owns academic buildings at 6 Metrotech and 5 Metrotech, a residence hall on Johnson Street, and admissions offices on Bridge Street.

“Expanding into buildings that flank the commons allows NYU-Poly to own the square, and imparts a more dynamic, vibrant feel to our campus,” said NYU-Poly President Jerry Hultin.

The land grab is part of Polytechnic’s 10-year, $38-million expansion and renovation plan, now in its second year, to accommodate a projected rise in enrollment.

Crain’s New York recently reported that NYU-Poly plans to expand enrollment by 40 percent, to 6,000 students, over the next four years.

But the school’s growth is also a boon to the area’s empty office space.

The Metrotech complex — built in the early 1990s with hefty public subsidies — has largely included financial institutions, until many began to decamp during the financial bubble of 2008, according to real-estate broker Chris Havens.

He said that NYU likely took advantage of a “fantastic deal” and that Metrotech space is “going cheap.”

“The biggest hole in Brooklyn is Metrotech — there’s lots of space there for lease,” Havens said. “It’s finally starting to go now. Education is the future of Downtown Brooklyn.”

Before choosing Metrotech, NYU-Poly flirted with building a new 41-story tower on Jay Street.

The building never made it beyond the dreaming stage, but it remains a possibility.

Aside from Polytechnic’s new digs, NYU has greater Brooklyn plans. The university’s 25-year citywide expansion plan calls for the rental or construction of one million square feet of classroom, residential and office space by 2031.

NYU spokesman John Beckman said that the university would likely expand into Downtown mostly, with “other schools of NYU, not just NYU-Poly.”

Most local planners accept the inevitable influx of students to Downtown with open arms.

“We have a reservoir of space that can accommodate those needs, so it’s fortunate for us,” said Mike Weiss, executive director of Metrotech BID. “More faculty and students means more research and jobs. It serves the area very well.”

Downtown has become college territory over the last few years, with more than 57,000 students attending classes — even more than in Cambridge, Mass! The neighborhood’s hubs include St. Francis College, City Tech, ASA Institute, and Berkeley College.

Photo by Stefano Giovannini