Four Years Later, Tech Hub Promises Still Broken

Councilmember Carlina Rivera, the old St. Denis Hotel at 11th Street and Broadway, and the building at 799 Broadway that replaced it.
Historic buildings like the former St. Denis Hotel at 11th and Broadway will continue to be replaced by tech office towers and other high-rise development until Councilmember Rivera keeps her pledge and supports neighborhood protections.

It was four years ago this week that the City Council, at the direction of local Councilmember Carlina Rivera, voted to approve Mayor de Blasio’s plan to give away a piece of city-opened land on 14th Street to a private developer, who made campaign donations to the Mayor and to Rivera, for a huge “Tech Hub” development and to upzone the site. The land, east of Fourth Avenue and formerly occupied by a P.C. Richard’s Store, had been earmarked for future affordable housing.

When she ran for City Council in 2017, Councilmember Rivera publicly pledged that she would not support the Mayor’s Tech Hub plan unless it came along with comprehensive zoning or landmark protections for the surrounding neighborhood, since as Rivera herself acknowledged, without such protections, the upzoning plan would increase pressure on the surrounding East Village and Greenwich Village neighborhood South of Union Square (roughly Third to Fifth Avenues) for demolitions and new high-rise development. Instead, Rivera broke her pledge, and voted for the project with virtually no neighborhood protections. She did however again pledge to fight for such protections in her time on the Council.

Four years later, she has not only not secured a single additional neighborhood protection, she has failed to publicly support a single one. Village Preservation and thousands of her constituents have asked Councilmember Rivera to support various landmark protections for buildings and sections of this threatened neighborhood South of Union Square. But in every case, she has refused (Village Preservation has meanwhile secured increasing support for such protections — see here and here). She also supported and helped engineer the nearby SoHo/NoHo/Chinatown Upzoning + Displacement Plan, which similarly violated pledges made to the community about what that plan would and would not entail. 

August 5, 2022