In NYC, Tech Hubs Aren't Just In Manhattan

Insights Wired Resources | on September 22, 2015

Here’s some great news for residents and businesses in much of Brooklyn and Queens: ultrafast internet connectivity is coming.

On July 1st, the New York City Economic Development Corporation drew praise from tech leaders and consumer advocates by announcing news of a $5.3 million collaboration between the city, Stealth Communications, and Xchange Telecom to install high-speed broadband infrastructure in Southwest Brooklyn, North Brooklyn, Greenpoint-Williamsburg, and Long Island City.

Stealth Communications, also recently made headlines by connecting fiber technology to the historic 161 Bowery building, providing the property with the broadband infrastructure needed to obtain a coveted Wired Certified Silver designation - becoming the smallest Wired Certified building at just over 20,000 square feet.

Focusing on Growing Business Needs

This newest infrastructure project is part of the city’s Connect IBZ initiative, which also helped Brooklyn Fiber install high-speed broadband in Sunset Park earlier this year.

According to NYCEDC Interim President Kim Vaccari, “Connect IBZ provides broadband access to underserved industrial businesses in Brooklyn and Queens, bringing increased opportunities to hundreds of businesses in former Digital Deserts.”

Upon completion of the network, users in the targeted areas will have access to ultrafast internet connectivity ranging from ten megabits to one gigabit per second. In addition to funding infrastructure installation, the $5.3 million budget also includes a provision to cover the buildout costs for five-hundred commercial buildings. Landlords and business owners that are interested in taking part in the program can submit applications through the NYCEDC website.

In total, an estimated 5,000 businesses in Brooklyn and Queens will benefit from the Connect IDZ initiative.

An Opportunity for Landlords and Property Managers

For many landlords and property managers in Brooklyn and Queens, sparse and unreliable connectivity has been a roadblock in attracting the tech companies that are making up an ever-increasing portion of commercial leasing activity.

The need for high-speed internet access was resonates by David Salway, the New York State Broadband Program’s Executive Director, who believes that “access to high-speed broadband is critical for growing and retaining business in New York State. Without robust broadband infrastructure, businesses cannot remain competitive in today’s 21st century global economy.”

Once the Connect IBZ project is complete, local building owners and managers in targeted neighborhoods will be in a better position to stay competitive in the tech market.

Currently, many underconnected Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods are not fully benefiting from the tech boom thriving nearby in other parts of Brooklyn and Manhattan. For properties in the four neighborhoods targeted by Connect IDZ, this presents a huge opportunity to set themselves apart from other nearby commercial spaces by catering to the growing subset of companies that demand reliable connectivity, but are looking to escape from the high costs of operating in Manhattan.

Tech Tenants Are Paying Attention to Connectivity

Not sure how big of an impact reliable high-speed internet access can have? Just take a look at a few of the buildings outside of Manhattan that currently have earned Wired Certifications:

In June, Industry City, a six-million-square-foot industrial, shipping, and distribution center in Sunset Park, became the first existing commercial property in Brooklyn awarded with a Platinum Wired Certification. Since then, the 16-building complex has been a mainstay in the headlines with big news like their 250,000-square-foot deal with MakerBot, a 15-year lease with Time Inc., and the 60,000-square-foot lease to Milk Studios, a coworking space provider that hopes to expand to 200,000 square feet down the road.

Dumbo Heights, known as home to Etsy’s 200,000 square foot headquarters, is another Wired Certified Platinum property that’s benefiting from Brooklyn’s growing tech sector. The building was Wired Pre-Certified while it was still under development, and since then, the mixed-use building has had no problem inking big deals with shared space leader WeWork and industrial design firm Frog. These days Dumbo Heights is working with multiple retail and foodservice providers eager to be part of Brooklyn’s economic boom.

In Long Island City, The Factory, a Wired Certified Silver building, is helping to bring tech companies to Queens. The one-million-square-foot former textile warehouse has recently announced news of leasing agreements with data analysis firm Applied Research & Consulting, online apparel company Gwynnie Bee, and - in one of the largest Long Island City leases of the year - 150,000 square feet to Macy's.

There’s no doubt that tech-related companies have already begun making the move to Brooklyn and Queens. And thanks to the New York City Economic Development Corporation and its service provider partners bringing ultrafast internet access to the boroughs, we’re likely to see even more businesses think again about a move across the East River in the coming years.

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