‘Hub’ hopes

The City Council will hold its only public hearing on Mayor de Blasio’s proposed “Tech Hub” on Tues., July 10, starting at 9:30 a.m., at City Hall.

There’s no question that this project — slated for the former P.C. Richard & Son site on E. 14th St. between Third and Fourth Aves. — will only further accelerate the development of out-of-scale largely commercial development in Greenwich Village and the East Village between Union Square and Astor Place.

The area around Union Square is already being touted as “Silicon Alley,” and the Tech Hub would only help extend that southward.

The proposed tech hub on E. 14th St. between Third and Fourth Aves. would rise between two existing N.Y.U. dorms on the former P.C. Richard & Son site.

In fact, it’s actually already happening. A 285-foot-tall residential tower is being constructed on University Place at the former Bowlmor site; one possible design for a commercial office building on Broadway at E. 11th St. would rise more than 300 feet tall; a 313-room Moxy Hotel is going up on E. 11th St. between Third and Fourth Aves.; and a 232-foot-tall mixed office / residential tower is being built at Broadway and E. 11th St.; while a proposed 300-foot-tall office tower at Broadway and E. 13th St. was only blocked due to landmarking.

In short, if the Tech Hub is to be approved, then the City Council must only do so if protections for the surrounding Greenwich Village and East Village are part of the agreement. University Place and the Broadway corridors, as well as Third and Fourth Aves., desperately need zoning protections and height caps.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has been leading the fight on this issue. And they are spot on. Just walk south down Broadway from Union Square and you can’t help but notice the new behemoths and additions going up along the street. This will only get worse if the Tech Hub is O.K.’d without protections.

According to G.V.S.H.P, the city’s expanding tech industry has pegged the area south of Union Square as “the new beachhead for Silicon Alley.”

The society has been fighting for years to get these vulnerable corridors protected. Bowlmor’s demolition raised the alarm about this development boom. G.V.S.H.P. has presented a comprehensive zoning plan — one that would, in fact, incentivize including affordable housing.

However, Mayor de Blasio has stubbornly refused to consider modifying the area’s zoning and adding height caps.

Concerned residents should show up at City Hall this coming Tuesday to testify against approving the Tech Hub unless the administration agrees to safeguard the surrounding area.

And we’re counting on our local councilmember, Carlina Rivera, in particular, to do the right thing and make sure there is a clear linkage between the Tech Hub and neighborhood protection.

As Rivera and others have rightly stressed, the Tech Hub offers a great opportunity for local youths and others to learn digital skills that will help secure them brighter futures. But we can’t destroy our neighborhood in the process. We can have — we must have — both education and preservation. That must be the message on July 10.

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