The Colleges That Ate New York
For a moment there, it appeared as if three mammoth university construction projects slated for New York City might never get on the rails. New York University’s 2-million-square-foot expansion in Greenwich Village got tied up in court over the use of park areas during construction, until an appeals court this past October ruled in the school’s favor. Columbia University’s planned 6.8-million-square-foot campus in Manhattanville also faced legal hurdles before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010 allowed the school to take over property in the blighted community in West Harlem. Finally, Ithaca-based Cornell University is developing the 700,000-square-foot Cornell Tech, an engineering school that will occupy the northern end of Roosevelt Island. That project initially drew the ire of pro-Palestine protestors because of its affiliation with an Israeli university called Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
Now that all three developments are moving forward, Commercial Observer examines what the projects mean for New York City’s real estate landscape.
Michael Gleicher, a director at Winick Realty Group, which is marketing retail space in the Columbia Manhattanville project, believes the expansions underscore how businesses of every persuasion want a footprint in New York City. “[The projects say] how New York continues to be at the center of the world, not just in finance, but in research, information and technology,” said Mr. Gleichner. “The expansion of the campuses has really put New York City at the forefront.”
Richard T. Anderson, the president of New York Building Congress, views such projects as an engine for growth. “Higher education represents about $2 billion a year in construction activity,” said Mr. Anderson. “It’s a big market. And it helps the economy in two ways. Directly, in work for designers and contractors and crafstmen. Indirectly, it serves as an economic multiplier, where every dollar spent on these projects generates another 50 cents of economic activity.”
The projects are driven by competition among top-tier colleges. Officials at NYU and Columbia University have said that their expansions will allow them to attract talented faculty and graduated students. And Cornell Tech’s $2 billion campus is the product of an initiative led by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to increase entrepreneurship and job growth in the city’s technology sector. The university will ultimately compete with schools like The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University.
“New York has become a much more compelling place to study and more attractive place to live with a greater likelihood that students will find a quality job,” said Kenneth Hochhauser, an executive vice president at Winick. “So to satisfy that demand, they’ve gone on a building spree, but it’s not just for students. It’s also a desire to capture research dollars. The building spree is classrooms and dorms, and also incubators, labs and research space.”
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Winick Realty Group is one of New York’s prominent real estate firms specializing in retail leasing and advisory services. Over the years, Winick Realty has served a broad range of domestic and global clients, with a strong emphasis on long-term representation and expansion and growth strategies. Winick Realty Group is highly recognized as a forerunner in the retail real estate market.