Union Square Tech Training Center Approved By City Planning Commission

Rendering of new Union Square Tech Hub. Image via NYC EDC.

Rendering of new Union Square Tech Hub. Image via NYC EDC.

The Union Square Tech Training Center is one step closer to becoming reality.

The City Planning Commission yesterday approved the proposal for a 21-story commercial tower at 124 East 14th St., the site of a former P.C. Richard & Son store. The project, which requires zoning changes is winding its way through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

The partners — including RAL Development Services and Civic Hall (a tech training and collaboration non-profit) — plan to create a digital skills training center, flex-office space for startups, market rate office space for established firms and a food hall within the building. There would also be a large meeting facility.

The city’s Economic Development Corp. is overseeing the project. An EDC Spokesperson, Ryan Birchmeier said, “The Tech Training Center in Union Square will create a new model for accessing New York City’s tech sector – connecting New Yorkers to modern skills training and job opportunities with growing companies, all under one roof. We are thrilled to see the project continue to gain momentum throughout the public review process and appreciate the City Planning Commission’s feedback on ways to make it even stronger.”

Some community members have worries about the large complex. They’ve asked for zoning protections in the blocks to the south of the development site to protect against further over-development. Community Board 3 voted in favor of the project, with conditions. The focus now shifts to the City Council, which will vote on the ULURP. Local City Council member Carlina Rivera will have a lot to say about the final plan. A newsletter to constituents in May from Rivera’s office stated:

As Carlina continues to negotiate with the de Blasio administration ahead of the Council vote on the ULURP, she is committed to a Tech Hub facility that truly represents the education and economic development needs of her constituents while also obtaining protections for the adjoining neighborhoods that preserve affordability and character.

The EDC yesterday put out a promotional video for the tech training center, which features several Lower East Side leaders, including the tenant presidents of two LES public housing complexes.