On the North Williamsburg site of what had been a parking lot for a machine renting company will rise a roughly $400 million glass and brick office building looking to house some of Brooklyn’s techiest and most creative firms.
“We were watching the evolution of the neighborhood residentially,” Jeremiah Kane of lead developers Rubenstein Partners said in an interview. “In a lot of ways, Williamsburg and Greenpoint were ‘live’ and ‘play’ neighborhoods and ‘work’ was missing.”
25 Kent, which got city approval back in April despite initial concerns from community leaders, will officially break ground Friday. The 8-story, 500,000 square foot building will be made of glass and brick, with terraces on either side, centrally-located common spaces featuring cafes and lounges and a view of the river and Midtown Manhattan beyond it. There’s no official timetable on when the development will be done.
Kane said pricing per square foot will be consistent with that of Midtown South, considering that it will be new construction with state-of-the-art amenities, on the water, in a hip neighborhood and with a park going up across the street.
He said he envisioned three types of tenants.
One would be growing startups with, as he put it, “the Brooklyn ethos in their DNA.” It’s a well-known fact that many startups born in Brooklyn eventually migrate to Manhattan as they grow, while others, like Kickstarter, Etsy and Vice, spend a ton of money to make their own office out of a pre-existing industrial space. Kane thinks 25 Kent would be an attractive option for these companies.
The second would be individual departments of large corporations. J.P. Morgan has its operations department in Downtown Brooklyn, while its financial section lives in Midtown. Last year, Time Magazine moved its creative and tech teams to Industry City, in Sunset Park.
And the third would be smaller businesses, like advertising and design companies, which Kane said, seem to be more at the vanguard of interesting neighborhoods.
“[We’re] targeting the creative workforce,” Kane said. “A very significant part of it resides in Brooklyn and in and around Williamsburg is the epicenter of that.”
When asked about competition, Kane said that there really isn’t much for what they’re trying to create. WeWork, to which it seems similar in design, is for way, way smaller companies. Industry City is way lower priced, far away from everything and more focused on manufacturing companies. New Lab, located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, might be the closest thing, though Kane envisions a more premium space, it sounds.
The area around 25 Kent is absurdly hot right now. The William Vale Hotel, almost directly behind it, just opened its swanky doors this summer. Down the street is the Williamsburg Hotel, nearly completed, and looking to open up in December. And just around the corner from that is the trendy, glassy Hoxton Hotel, which will be roughly the same! All the better to lodge the international business travelers that will be coming in for meetings at 25 Kent.
The competitive advantage of Brooklyn has always been, primarily, its proximity to Manhattan at a steeply-discounted price. That price differential has encouraged more creative and lower-earning people to set up shop in the borough, which has added “creativity” to what Kane calls “the Brooklyn ethos.” But what happens when rent in Brooklyn is the same as it is in Midtown Manhattan, literally the economic epicenter of the solar system? Anyhow, it’s quite a time in Williamsburg.-30-