Brooklyn’s MetroTech to get $50M makeover, new name

Brookfield Development to rechristen property "Brooklyn Commons"

MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn is being rechristened "Brooklyn Commons." (Google)
MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn is being rechristened "Brooklyn Commons." (Google)

MetroTech Center, the 1980s-era superblock of office towers and open space that is practically walled off from its Downtown Brooklyn location, is getting a new name and $50 million makeover.

According to the Architect’s Newspaper and other published reports, three of the 12 buildings at the newly christened “Brooklyn Commons” will get a facelift while its 3.5-acre privately owned, public green space now known as “Brooklyn Commons Park” will get new outdoor seating, better lighting and signage, new plantings and gardens in an attempt to better weave it into the surrounding neighborhood.

The announcement came this week from site owner Brookfield Properties, which purchased the complex from Forest City Realty Trust, the parent company of Forest City Ratner, in 2018.

The 23-story 1 MetroTech, the 10-story 2 MetroTech and the newer 19-story 15 MetroTech will each get new lobbies, outdoor terraces and updated ground-floor retail, according to the report.

Conceived as a way to keep back-office space in New York City during the high-crime 1980s — when yellow cab drivers were reluctant to take a passenger from Manhattan to Brooklyn — the inward-facing complex between Jay Street and Flatbush Avenue Extension has long been criticized for its design that purposefully separated it from the neighborhood, with critics arguing it became a dead zone after workers, who rarely ventured out into the surrounding community, went home.

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It has long been home to the New York City Fire Department’s main offices and NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering (formerly Brooklyn Polytechnic University), as well as data centers and back-office space for JPMorgan Chase, Verizon and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield.

But as crime dropped during the 1990s and the neighborhood around it grew upward thanks to a high rise–friendly zoning change in 2004, the transit-rich location in what some were calling “America’s Downtown” began drawing new front-office tenants, including media companies such as Slate and 3D printer company MakerBot.

With the name change comes the question of what will become of the area’s transit hub, the A, C, F, and R station known as “Jay Street MetroTech” since 2010, when a tunnel was built by the MTA to connect all the platforms — and provide a free transfer between the lines.

Until then, the two separate stations were known as the Jay Street-Boro Hall (for the A, C and F trains) and Lawrence Street (the R).

[Architect’s Newspaper] — Vince DiMiceli