Walentas, NYU Poly and City Revive Startup Incubator Project

Parties Will Provide Free Amenities to New Businesses

By Dennis Holt
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

BROOKLYN — This newspaper has learned that NYU Polytechnic University, the Walentas family’s Two Trees Management and the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) have teamed up to create an incubator space for high-tech business start-ups that would be operated by NYU Polytechnic. The space would be located in DUMBO.

If a relationship between Two Trees and Polytechnic rings a faint bell, the tone is correct.

Several years ago Two Trees and Polytechnic proposed that the Empire Stores, not then a part of Brooklyn Bridge Park, be converted into a mixed-use facility that would incorporate startup incubators for Polytechnic, retail stores, offices and restaurants.

That idea never caught on, and the state later awarded a contract for re-use of the buildings to a different developer, who in turn eventually had to relinquish that contract.

Another request for proposals (RFP) for the Empire Stores is expected next year, but it would not include the Polytechnic plan.

Two Trees has made about 6,500 square feet of space available on the third floor of 20 Jay St. at below-market rent for business incubators. The space could accommodate about 15 companies.

It will include a meeting room for about 50 people and about 34 6-by-6-foot workstations. NYU Polytechnic will also arrange for business essentials like copy machines, high-speed internet connections and the like. The school will provide free business, legal and technical advice.

The EDC has kicked in $250,000 for the business incubator project, which it hopes will be similar to the one that started up in 2009 on Varick Street in Manhattan. A spokesperson for EDC, Patrick Muncies, said, “This is a true collaboration between the public, private and academic sectors, with the city providing seed money, Two Trees creating critical space at a subsidized rate, and NYU Poly operating the facility and providing programming.”

A representative of NYU Polytechnic indicated that the school will be looking for people who have already developed a product or service or are near to creating a saleable product. Chances are that the emphasis will be on digital media, because Two Trees has already brought that interest to DUMBO.

Almost 800 people in the digital media area are already working in DUMBO for companies such as Huge, Etsy, Wireless Generation, Pointflex and Big Spaceship.

Although this newspaper has recorded the additions of this industry to DUMBO, most other news sources have dwelled on the large arts and cultural scene, and the new condos there. However, the New York Post has already dubbed the area “Silicon DUMBO.”

NYU Polytechnic also has its eyes on another part of Downtown Brooklyn. It wishes to establish a new science center on Jay Street across from its existing campus as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s new science initiative.

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Filed under Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Real Estate

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