MetroTech Center lies between Flatbush Avenue Extension and Jay Street, north of the Fulton Street Mall and south of Tillary Street, close to Brooklyn's Civic Center (Borough Hall and the courts) and Brooklyn Heights. The center is above the Jay Street – MetroTech New York City Subway station, served by the A, C, F, N, R, and W trains.
It is the nation's largest urban academic-industrial research park. The early occupants included JPMorgan Chase, the New York City Fire Department, the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Verizon Human Resources, Keyspan Energy (now National Grid), Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, the New York City College of Technology and the New York University Tandon School of Engineering. Later tenants include MakerBot Industries, the Brooklyn Nets, Slate magazine, the Ms. Foundation for Women, El Diario La Prensa, Robert Half International, UniWorld Group, and HeartShare Human Services of New York. The NYU Tandon School of Engineering, previously named Polytechnic University, was one of MetroTech's founding members. The Marriott Hotel at Brooklyn Bridge is located across Jay Street. The MetroTech Business Improvement District, a non-profit organization, provides sanitation, marketing, and events programming services.
The 1980s and 1990s were a period of major large-scale development activity and renewal in Downtown Brooklyn. The MetroTech Center office complex was at the center of this revitalization and within walking distance of several other major development projects including Pierrepont Plaza, the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, Atlantic Terminal Mall, and Renaissance Plaza. MetroTech was controversial when it was created because it involved the demolition of over 100 homes and 50 businesses.
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, among others, had been looking for suitable locations for expansions in Manhattan but could not settle on it. Once the AIAA chose Washington D.C. due to lack of space in New York, Bugliarello decided in 1975 to start his idea of Metrotech.In an effort to resuscitate Downtown Brooklyn a decade earlier, former Polytechnic University President George Bugliarello had advanced the idea of creating a center for research and development modeled on the lines of Silicon Valley.
Several years later, New York City agreed to designate Polytechnic as the urban renewal sponsor, under the condition that there were at least two other tenants. Both the City and Polytechnic chose Forest City Enterprises as the project’s main developer based on its years of experience, commitment to stay in the area, and financial capacity. Forest City's co-founder Bruce Ratner and Borough President Howard Golden represented the a public-private partnership and quickly redefined the MetroTech vision from a research and development park to a campus-centered back office complex.
As Forest City negotiated with Morgan Stanley, two other major corporate players were being wooed for the site: the Securities Industry Automation Corporation and Brooklyn Union Gas. The key to SIAC's decision to move to Metrotech was that the site was on a separate power grid from Manhattan's, which meant their operations would be safe if Manhattan experienced a power failure, as happened in the New York City blackout of 1977. The decision that sealed the MetroTech vision put forth by Bugliarello was convincing Chase Manhattan Bank to move its back operations there.
MetroTech was formed in 1992 by making a 16-acre (65,000 m2) rectangle into a pedestrian zone (bounded by Jay Street, Johnson Street, Flatbush Avenue, and Myrtle Avenue), in connection with the erection of new office buildings and parking garages. As a consequence, the north ends of Lawrence and Duffield Streets were also freed from motor traffic.
From 2000 to 2016, the MetroTech complex generated more than $1 billion in new investment, representing more than five million square feet of new space. In 2017, New York University announced that it would invest over $500 million in its Brooklyn Campus that mainly includes the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and Center for Urban Science and Progress.
MetroTech Commons, the 3.5-acre (14,000 m2) privately owned public space at the heart of the MetroTech complex, hosts events including concerts, health fairs, chess tournaments and holiday celebrations. Bounded by Lawrence and Duffield Streets, the square is frequently adorned by modern art exhibits. Two pieces called Alligator and Visionary are part of the Commons' permanent public art collection by the well-known sculptor Tom Otterness.
- ImpreMedia has its headquarters on the 18th floor of 1 MetroTech Center. El Diario La Prensa, a newspaper of ImpreMedia, has its offices on the same floor.
- MakerBot Industries has its headquarters on the 21st floor of 1 MetroTech Center.
- National Grid, the gas utility company, has offices in the MetroTech complex.
- The New York City Fire Department has its headquarters in 9 MetroTech Center, which has eight stories and 360,000 square feet (33,000 m2) of space.
- New York University's campus includes the building at 370 Jay Street, within MetroTech Center.
- TransCare Corporation has its headquarters in 1 MetroTech Center.
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