What We Heard at the NYC Tech Forum

The RDM team was in attendance at the 2014 NYC Tech Forum, which brought together leaders in the tech sector and the real estate, design and building industries to discuss the technological innovations impacting New York City real estate.

Featured speakers included professionals from Jamestown Properties, Himmel+Meringoff Properties, RFR Holding LLC, Related Companies and L&L Holding Company, with a keynote from William C. Rudin, CEO & Vice Chairman of Rudin Management Company, Inc.

In his keynote, William Rudin addressed making buildings more attractive to tenants:

• In order to attract top companies, owners need to have their game at the “best level” possible.
• Rudin partnered with the Downtown Alliance over 20 years ago to reposition 55 Broad Street for tech companies.
• They created a high speed network which gave tenants a “choice” – something no one else was doing.
• This is why it only took 18 months to reach 100% occupancy at 55 Broad after the reposition.
• When competing on a global level, you have to think of ways to make your building better.

This is some of what we heard during the panel discussions:

First panel
• Ashkan Zandleh (RE:Tech) - Tech companies are coming to NYC to expand. Tech companies seized the moment during the recession and took advantage of the supply of space in midtown south.
• Steven Rosenbaum (Magnify.net) sees LA creeping up on NYC by becoming a “real digital competitor and content creator”.
• Molly Zinzi (Google) – says Google is constantly challenging engineers to make new products and move quickly. All this plays into real estate decisions.
• She runs a 5 star hotel and encourages employees to use resources in the community.
• The environment in Google’s NYC office is different than in Mountain View - every “Googler” has a desk.
• Google is here because their employees want to be in NYC and they’re close to the ad revenue.

Second Panel
• Steven Meringoff (Himmel+Meringoff) says when leasing space, they’re concerned with the growth of a company. Tech companies change quickly and owners need to keep up with space requirements.
• Owners need to proactively seek opportunities to retrofit buildings with new technology such as fiber optic networks.
• Tech companies in growth mode should build space that is generic so they can easily sub-lease.
• It’s important to have communal spaces.
• Meringoff says NYC is a “tale of many cities” – there are companies that want to be close to transport centers and others that are attracted to cool regardless of transportation.
• Gregg Popkin (RFR) says areas that are most popular are incredibly supply-constrained.
• Popkin believes the boroughs are finally participating in the growth of NYC. It’s now hard to find areas where you don't want to be.