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NYU moves tech hub into long-empty former MTA headquarters

The former home of the MTA headquarters in Downtown Brooklyn has a new tenant: New York University.
370 jay street, nyu, nyu brooklyn, mta headquarters
A rendering of the completely renovated 370 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Photo: Provided by NYU

A long-vacant MTA building has been given a tech-filled new life.

New York University announced Wednesday that the school’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) has moved into 370 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn, a site that was previously home to the headquarters of the New York City Transit Authority.

The New York City Transit Authority, which became part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in 1968, created the headquarters and set up shop on Jay Street in 1953.

The MTA then began moving out of 370 Jay Street in 1990 as the Transit Authority relocated to a new headquarters. Now, NYU’s move into that location marks the building’s first tenant in decades, a milestone for the university and part of a trend in Brooklyn toward a tech-filled future.

“The opening of 370 Jay Street is a testament to several ambitions: to advance NYU’s tech efforts, to strengthen our connection to Brooklyn and to support Brooklyn’s and the city’s evolution into a world center for creative engineering and technology innovation,” said Andrew Hamilton, president of NYU, in a statement.

CUSP is currently occupying the 530,000 square-foot building’s top two floors to continue its mission of using “data and social sciences to understand and improve cities,” tackling topics like homelessness and pollution to crowded public transportation (something New Yorkers know all too well).

The building is still undergoing renovations and is set to be fully occupied in 2019. The finished building will feature audio labs, motion capture labs, virtual reality rooms, workshop spaces, an exhibit hall and classrooms.

More NYU programs will eventually move into 370 Jay Street as well, like other Tandon School of Engineering programs and three departments from the Tisch School of the Arts.

“Ultimately it is our vision that 370 Jay Street will house engineers, research scientists, game designers, media artists and musicians — all interacting and collaborating under one roof,” Hamilton said. “It’s particularly fitting that CUSP, an interdisciplinary center dedicated to leveraging data and technology to tackle some of the world’s most challenging urban problems, will be the building’s inaugural tenant.”

NYU is able to take over 370 Jay Street because the university won a 99-year lease for the building in 2012 through the Applied Science NYC initiative.

With that win, NYU also took on the responsibility of paying the $50 million associated with the relocation of the MTA equipment, according to the transit authority. It’s still a benefit to give CUSP this new home, officials said, as research completed and technologies created at the center are expected to generate an economic impact of $5.5 billion and 7,700 jobs over the next three decades. 

 
 
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