NYC Seeks Partner to Vet Proptech Tools for Its Real Estate

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One of the biggest property owners in the tri-state area wants to add more proptech to its real estate.

New York City released a request for proposal (RFP) last week to partner with a company to vet and recommend proptech startups that the city could roll out to its owned and managed real estate portfolio, including warehouses and New York City Housing Authority multifamily buildings.

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“New York City has a tremendous amount of housing and buildings under our control, between the [New York City Economic Development Corporation] and the [Department of Citywide Administrative Services],” Vicki Been, deputy mayor for housing and economic development, said. “We’ve been saying to the proptech industry, ‘Look you’ve got a resource here. Let’s talk about how we can make our buildings available to test out some ideas.’”

The RFP — released by the EDC — aims to find an organization that will find and vet proptech startups to allow them to pilot their products throughout the city’s real estate. 

A major goal for the program is to find products that will help the city’s buildings become more energy-efficient and, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, ones that could help make the buildings healthier, Been said.

Been added that the city wants to make sure that these proptech solutions don’t just stay in the realm of luxury residential or commercial buildings, but also in apartment properties in underserved communities.

“We want proptech to be aimed at and used for a lot of the problems for residential buildings across the board, especially many of the older buildings, where detecting a leak and detecting energy efficiency can really make a difference,” Been said. “In the public housing that is in my portfolio, the consequences of a leak, in terms of mold and other things, can be horrible.”

City agencies have made various efforts throughout the years to increase the use of technology in their properties, and last year, Been announced a pilot program to let proptech startups test out their products throughout the city’s entire portfolio. 

Instead of just vetting the companies themselves, the city decided to partner with another organization better plugged into the proptech market to make the decisions.

The city has become a mecca for the proptech industry in recent years, thanks in large part to the amount of freely available data provided by the city.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated proptech adoption throughout landlords’ portfolios as they scramble to make buildings safer for when employees return to the office. Tenant experience software platform HqO previously said at a Commercial Observer forum that it braced for the worst on the onset of the pandemic, but instead, grew and launched in more than 30 million square feet since April.

And, while the proptech solutions mainly targeted the highest-quality buildings around the city, Been said proptech startups have been receptive to her call to bring them to all building types.

The deadline for the city’s proptech RFP is Feb. 5, 2021, and the EDC hopes to have its partner in place to start vetting the startups by late summer or early fall of next year.