Related partners with electric vehicle startup to bring charging stations to NYC

The firm is one of several NYC landlords exploring deals with startup Gravity to build EV infrastructure in urban areas

New York /
Sep.September 21, 2021 03:00 PM
Gravity CEO Moshe Cohen and Related CEO Jeff Blau (Getty, Gravity)

Gravity CEO Moshe Cohen and Related CEO Jeff Blau (Getty, Gravity)

Sleek, high-tech electric vehicle charging stations are coming en masse to New York City, and major landlords will play a key part in the rollout.

This fall, New York-based Gravity, an electric vehicle taxi service and charging infrastructure startup, will open an indoor fast-charging EV hub — Manhattan’s first, according to the company — at Related’s Manhattan Plaza.

The street-level site at 401 West 42nd Street in Midtown will have 29 charging ports and its own dedicated entrance. Fast-charging ports will allow drivers to recharge in minutes. The site will be open to the public and will support roughly 600 vehicles a day.

The Related deal is the first of several partnerships to come with major New York City landlords looking to bring the service to the growing number of EV owners, Gravity CEO Moshe Cohen said in an interview.

There will be discrete leases or licensing agreements for locations around Manhattan and denser areas of Brooklyn, alongside a handful of portfolio-level deals with landlords who want to “electrify” their parking garages. In the end, there could be as many as 100 locations around the city, each offering between six and 40 charging ports.

Cohen would not disclose prospective licensing fees or lease rates, nor the names of the other landlords with which it is exploring partnerships.

“We’re interested in every single capable property, and very actively engaged in exploring their potential,” Cohen said.

Site selection boils down to two main factors: space and power. Manhattan’s commercial garages are tight, and each fast-charging port requires about 100 amps of power, which must be drawn from underutilized sources, Cohen said.

Gravity, which bills itself as a “private transportation and lifestyle membership-based service,” wants to make its charging services seamless for users by placing their stations at or near locations where drivers would leave their cars anyway. Much of the charging infrastructure to-date has focused on outdoor sites far from urban centers, and is less efficient, Cohen said.

“Sophisticated” landlords like Related now understand the difference between a fast-charging urban location and a “destination” charging station on the outskirts of a city, Cohen said.

“They’re thinking nationally — their whole portfolios — and what happens from a real estate perspective as there’s a move to EVs,” Cohen said. “It’s very synergistic and natural. And frankly, the more sophisticated landlords are gravitating to solutions like ours.”

Related did not return a request for comment.

As the market for electric vehicles matures, charging stations will be more than an array of ports and parking spaces, Cohen said. Some of Gravity’s planned locations may allow for integrated cafes or enclosed workstations.

“This is a deep rethinking: What does a parking garage actually look like when you remove fumes?” Cohen said. “There’s a lot of other things that happen as you move to EVs. How does that change how we think about parking? And how is it going to change behavior?”





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