Brooklyn Boro

Goodbye MetroTech — it’s ‘Brooklyn Commons’ now

Brookfield to invest $50M in renovations to 1990s-era complex

February 8, 2022 Raanan Geberer
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Brookfield Properties, owner of the Downtown Brooklyn office complex known until now as MetroTech Center, announced on Tuesday its official renaming as Brooklyn Commons. 

The renaming accompanies a $50 million investment by Brookfield Properties to renovate several of the office buildings within the campus and upgrade the central public park space, in addition to building out year-round arts and events programming that is free and open to the public. 

When MetroTech was built in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a partnership between Forest City Ratner and what was then Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, businesses were moving out of the city and Downtown Brooklyn was commercially depressed.

MetroTech’s aim at the time was to offer “back office” and data-processing space to large companies that might have otherwise moved to New Jersey or elsewhere, according a Brookfield spokesperson. For the first few years, the complex was gated off at night because the surrounding area was considered unsafe. 

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Now, “Downtown Brooklyn has rapidly transformed into a thriving commercial and residential district, and we are proud to lead the charge in reimagining Brooklyn Commons as a vibrant hub for business, education, art, culture and community,” said Callie Haines, executive vice president and head of New York, Brookfield Properties. “Embracing and building upon the area’s momentous growth, we are repositioning Brooklyn Commons as an integrated, open campus for the 21st century.” 

Rendering courtesy of Brookfield Properties

The 16-building complex was originally designed as a self-contained complex. Today, Brookfield Properties aims to modernize the campus and weave it into the surrounding neighborhoods, according to the company. 

The $50 million capital improvements entail renovations within 1, 2 and 15 MetroTech, including new lobbies, outdoor terraces and modernized ground-floor retail. Upgrades to the 3.6-acre Brooklyn Commons Park will be led by acclaimed landscape architect James Corner Field Operations and will include enhanced outdoor seating, new lighting, new signage and wayfinding, redesigned landscaping, seasonal gardens and plantings. 

The renovation work will be done in such a way that it will not disturb the comings and goings of office workers. 

Arts Brookfield, Brookfield’s award-winning cultural and events program, will curate a robust calendar of free, public events and activations year-round, including theater performances, outdoor movie nights, exercise classes, a children’s book fair, live-music, an ice-skating rink, holiday celebrations and food festivals. 

Rendering courtesy of Brookfield Properties

Brookfield will create more than 150 events per year, the spokesperson said. Some of the activities will be held in partnership with local organizations. 

In addition, the company will be looking into re-purposing its retail sector on the ground floor of its office buildings. The spokesperson did not say whether current food outlets and other tenants will stay, but did say that the company is interested in tenants that complement the mix of office workers and neighborhood residents that use the complex today.

Among the many companies and institutions that are located in Brooklyn Commons today are NYU Tandon, the successor to Brooklyn Polytechnic; Slate Media, the parent company of the well-known Slate website; JP Morgan Chase; the Ms. Foundation for Women; MakerBot Industries; and Robert Half International, an accounting and finance staffing firm.

Brookfield acquired Brooklyn Commons in 2018 when it bought out Forest City Realty Trust, the parent company of Forest City Ratner.

Brookfield Properties is a leading global developer and operator of high-quality real estate assets. It is active in nearly all real estate sectors, including office, retail, multifamily, hospitality and logistics, operating more than 800 properties and over 375 million square feet of real estate.

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