The Daily Dirt: Construction-tech startups on the rise

(Credit: iStock)

(Credit: iStock)Some big names are showing interest in construction tech. 

Another day, another story about people throwing money at proptech. Except, today the focus was more specifically on construction-related technology. 

San Francisco-based Brick & Mortar Ventures launched a $100 million fund on Tuesday, the largest of its kind to focus exclusively on construction-technology startups, David Jeans reports. The fund will focus on Series A financing. Also on Tuesday, OpenSpace, a company that uses artificial intelligence to create 360-degree, navigable maps of construction sites for developers, announced that it raised $14 million in Series A funding.  

Both announcements demonstrate mounting interest in construction-tech, especially among some well-established figures in the industry. A group of investors led by Darren Bechtel, whose family owns construction conglomerate Bechtel, raised $97.2 million for Brick & Mortar Venture’s fund. Other investors included Autodesk, CEMEX, Ferguson Ventures, FMI, Hilti, Obayashi and Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet. Meanwhile, Lux Capital led OpenSpace’s round, joined by Goldcrest Capital, as well as new investors JLL Spark, Navitas Capital, Suffolk Construction, Tishman Speyer, WeWork and Zigg Capital.

Momentum has been building for construction-tech startups for some time. Last year, roughly $6.1 billion was invested in the sector, nearly double that of 2017, according to the Wall Street Journal. Institutional lenders are driving a lot of the sector’s growth. Goldman Sachs, for example, has invested in at least five construction tech startups this year.

A former executive of Empire State Realty Trust claims she was fired after reporting age discrimination. 

Audrey Pass, former chief marketing officer at the real estate investment trust, filed a lawsuit against ESRT and CEO Anthony Malkin, alleging that she was fired as retaliation for reporting age discrimination at the company. In the lawsuit, Pass accuses Malkin of repeatedly calling her “too old” and “a fossil.” She alleges that Malkin took away several of her responsibilities and gave them to a much younger, less experienced employee. 

According to the lawsuit, Pass was fired a short time after complaining about what she saw as age discrimination. A representative for ESRT declined to comment. 

ESRT joins other real estate companies and executives who have faced accusations of age discrimination and sexual harassment in recent years, including Bank OZK, WeWork, Cushman & Wakefield and Newmark Knight Frank.

What we’re thinking about next: What do Rabsky Group and All Year Management have planned for their Gowanus site? Send a note or renderings to

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Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded on Tuesday was for a condo unit at 30 East 85th Street on the Upper East Side, at $9.2 million.
Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for an apartment building at 88 Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn, at $13.6 million. 

The largest new building filing of the day was for two residential towers that will span 716,870 square feet at 71-12 Park Avenue in Flushing. Marx Development Group filed the permit application. 

The priciest residential listing to hit the market on Tuesday was for a condo unit at 160 West 12th Street in Greenwich Village, at $6.5 million. Douglas Elliman’s Richard Phan has the listing. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…
“Totchos are tater-tots made like nachos.” That’s what Mayor Bill de Blasio told NY1’s Errol Louis on Tuesday, while rattling off a list of all the deep-fried monstrosities he consumed this week at the Iowa State Fair. He and other presidential candidates converged on the fair to eat corndogs and admire sculptures made out of butter, all feats required of a U.S president, apparently.


Top stories from our other markets:

Home mortgage debt surged to a new high in the second quarter, leaving the pre-recession 2008 peak in the dust. The total mortgage balance grew during the second quarter by $162 billion to $9.406 trillion. That’s more than the 2008 record of $9.294 trillion. Mortgage debt has been climbing since 2013. 

WeWork continues to gobble up space in Chicago with an anchor lease in the Fulton Market District. The co-working firm, which was valued at $47 billion earlier this year, signed a lease for 90,000 square feet between two former industrial buildings. It is WeWork’s third location in the Fulton Market District and 13th in the city. The co-working giant now controls well over 1 million square feet of space in Chicago.

It has been a little over a year since the 157-acre Mountain of Beverly hit the market for $1 billion, and despite a steep price cut, the most expensive listing has failed to attract a buyer. On Thursday, it will be auctioned off, after the owner filed for bankruptcy protection in the spring. 

The music has stopped for North Beach Yard. The entertainment and food venue will not open, after the Miami Beach city manager said he was terminating the lease agreement with the founders for not complying with the terms. A proposed version of the hip Wynwood Yard in Miami, North Beach Yard, was to have up to two dozen food and beverage operators and 20 retailers. — Compiled by Alexi Friedman