Downtown Brooklyn office building to become NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress

April 23, 2012 04:30PM

The city and New York University have reached a deal to turn 370 Jay Street, an office building in Downtown Brooklyn, at MetroTech Roadway, into the Center for Urban Science and Progress, according to a statement from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office today. Marking the next step in the city’s Applied Sciences NYC initiative, NYU will repurpose the 460,000-square-foot tower that served as the headquarters of the state-run Metropolitan Transportation Authority for 30 years.

The agreement is contingent on approval from the MTA board, the statement said, and the agency will consider the issue Wednesday. The building is nearly vacant, but houses some staff of the MTA and the New York City Police Department and MTA equipment.

The Center for Urban Science and Progress will be a research institution focused on “the critical challenges facing cities … [such as] tech integration, energy efficiency, transportation congestion, public safety and public health,” and will admit its first class in 2013, the statement said. The program will award “graduate and doctorate degrees,” it noted.

The center will operate in another Downtown Brooklyn space until the two current tenants of 370 Jay Street, can be relocated. NYU will be responsible for the cost of moving both tenants, paying $50 million for the MTA’s relocation and $10 million for the NYPD’s.

The city owns the building, and under the current lease agreement, the MTA had the option to stay put for the cost of $1 per year for as long as it needs the space, previous reports say.

“Our administration has long seen the promise of Downtown Brooklyn, and we’ve made the investments needed to transform it into a thriving center for business,” the mayor said in the statement. “With the addition of this new campus, Brooklyn will be one of the most dynamic environments for entrepreneurs anywhere in the country.”

Steven Koonin, a theoretical physicist who previously held the position of provost at the California Institute of Technology, will serve as the Center for Urban Science and Progress’ inaugural director.

“With CUSP, New York will also be a living laboratory, a source of research, a test-bed for new ideas, and the economic beneficiary of our researchers’ discoveries,” NYU President John Sexton said in the statement. — Guelda Voien