Leases  ·  Office

Cornell Tech Gets Office Tenant as Roosevelt Island Campus Prepares for Sept. Opening


Cornell Tech campus may not be opening on Roosevelt Island until September, but the developer has secured its first office tenant at the site below the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.

Two Sigma Investments has signed a 9,200-square-foot lease at The Bridge, a 240,000-square-foot college and office building, according to a press release from developer Forest City Ratner Companies. The investment firm will take the top floor of the property, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported news of the deal.

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There the Soho-based investment firm will open what it’s calling a “Collision Lab,” the release indicates. Employees in its research and development division will use the lab in tandem with technology companies in which it is investing. Forest City Ratner is developing the structure to bridge the divide between mathematics and engineering students enrolled at Cornell Tech, which will occupy the base of the building, and companies for which they might work upstairs.

By signing Two Sigma, it shows “that the goals of The Bridge are validated in the world of business,” Mary Ann Tighe of CBRE, who represents Forest City Ratner at the under-development property, told Commercial Observer. “What we want is a mix of different kinds of companies that mirror the areas of study that are what Cornell Tech is about.”

That means finding companies that work in cyber security, artificial intelligence, robotics and design technology among other fields that could cohabitate with the students. The marketing team is currently negotiating three more leases at the property.  

It wasn’t immediately clear for how long Two Sigma would take the space. Tighe said asking rents were in the $60s per square foot at the building.     

Tighe represented Forest City Ratner along with colleagues Evan Haskell, David Caperna, Evan Fiddle, Sacha Zarba and Ross Zimbalist, while Neil Goldmacher and Josh Friedman of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank represented Two Sigma.

“Collaboration is at the heart of Two Sigma’s mission so we jumped at the opportunity to be in The Bridge at Cornell Tech, a place uniquely designed to bring science, technology and entrepreneurship together,” Alfred Spector, the chief technology officer at Two Sigma, said in prepared remarks. “We’re excited to launch the Collision Lab, a space that will allow our engineers to interact with Two Sigma-backed start-ups in the unique atmosphere of innovation that will exist at Cornell Tech.”

As CO reported in June 2016, the first portion of the campus will accommodate 1,000 students when it’s fully running.

Cornell University and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology won the rights to develop 12 acres of Roosevelt Island in 2011 into an engineering campus, and brought on Forest City Ratner to develop The Bridge as part of the three-building first phase. For the second building, the schools are jointly developing a 160,000-square-foot educational facility; and the third structure is the 251-unit dormitory under development by Hudson Companies and Related Companies—billed as the first high-rise building to use passive house technology that lowers a structure’s carbon footprint. Later phases of the development are still in the planning stages.