“We couldn’t be any more technologically obsolete and incompetant, but we’re glad there are lots of people out there that are not that way,” real estate developer Jed Walentas told Betabeat this morning by phone. He and his father, who own 13 buildings in the neighborhood under Two Trees Management, are widely credited for the waterfront neighborhood’s transition to a younger but slightly upscale mixed-use community by encouraging small, fast-growing companies to move in and providing funding for the arts and now tech communities.
Two Trees was the force behind the neighborhood-wide free wifi. The firm invested $65,000 and approached the city with the idea. Now they’re also providing the space for Dumbo’s first tech incubator, which is sponsored by the city and slated for fall. They’ve offered a space for the 30-desk incubator at a discounted rate with the first six months free. “We see Dumbo as being an incubator of sorts as a whole for New York City,” he said.
There are tech start-ups in the Two Trees office every day wanting to rent space, he said, and the companies already in leases are growing fast. Wireless Generation grew from 10,000 sq. ft. to 50,000 sq. ft. in about five years, he said, and every month one of his managers tells him, “Etsy needs more space again.”
He doesn’t have any specific plans for more initiatives with the tech community, he said, but Two Trees plans to keep paying attention to it. “Dumbo has gone from manufacturing and dead record storage kinds of tenants to young innovative companies,” he said.