Downtown to city: Give us MTA’s Jay Street eyesore!

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn’s high-tech CEOs are calling on the city to give up its long-vacant eyesore at 370 Jay St. so that NYU can transform it into a flashy science center — the latest in a salvo of publicity for the cutting-edge project.

On Wednesday morning, bigwigs from DUMBO’s Etsy and Small Planet rallied with local pols outside the vacant MTA building, saying it would create a much-pool of talent for their firms.

“A lot of companies in DUMBO are hiring kids out of school,” said Gavin Fraser, CEO of Small Planet, an iPad and iPhone app development firm. “What we need now is access to qualified talent.”

Downtown boosters have been frantically pushing the city to donate its massive building near Willoughby Street to NYU since October, when the private mega-university proposed the “Center for Urban Science and Progress.”

Local business groups even rolled out a print ad campaign this month to urge Mayor Bloomberg to “Get Smart” and approve the school — which would be a partnership with giants such as IBM and would focus on making cities safer and more energy-efficient.

NYU presented its plans this fall, after the MTA announced it would finally sell or lease its offices above the Jay Street subway station — a structure that city officials pushed the cash-strapped agency to sell for years.

The university is just one contender in the city’s contest that provides free real estate in exchange for a world-class science campus on Governors Island, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Roosevelt Island. Cornell won the bid for Roosevelt Island this week.

But NYU was high on Downtown, designing a glassy futuristic school that fits in with its existing Polytechnic campus in Metrotech Center — a group of 11 mixed-use buildings between Flatbush Avenue Extension and Jay Street.

If the school wins, it would move into a 60,000-square-foot space at 1 Metrotech Center as soon as fall, 2013. Then the university would refurbish 370 Jay St. and turn it into a research lab and startup space by 2016.

A host of elected officials including Borough President Markowitz and state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) are hailing the applied sciences school as another way to revitalize Downtown.

“Brooklyn is bigger than basketball and burgers,” said Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Fort Greene) — referring to the ballyhooed opening of Shake Shack and the incoming Barclays Center. “Now is the time to cultivate brains.”

Reach Kate Briquelet at or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.

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Reader Feedback

Dave from Park Slope says:
NYU is loaded and the MTA is broke. Why in the world should the taxpayers give the building to a private university for free? Let them pay fair market value.
Dec. 26, 2011, 11:38 am
Dennis sinneD from Williamsburg says:
Dave from Park Slope, yours is a very good point, but what if NYU pledged all construction/demolition/design work was local and union, and that locals get some kind of admissions preference for a stipulated albeit limited time [all other admissions qualifications being equal between parties]? Of course, this would require that NYU not play liar like Ratner and that the community groups get legally-binding stipulations--slippery slope when it comes to NYU.

The fair market value can be traded in for these things and would be better for the community and maybe the MTA--if NYU pays "fair market value" that value will certainly go into the City's coffers and their reinvestment in the community will certainly get muddled if not completely blocked.
Dec. 27, 2011, 12:09 pm

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