Metro Tech

‘Silicon Subway’: Does NYC’s Tech Scene Really Revolve Around the F Train?

Follow the bedrooms.
screen shot 2012 07 30 at 8 58 40 am Silicon Subway: Does NYCs Tech Scene Really Revolve Around the F Train?

(Photo: MTA)

Can a subway line that sidesteps Union Square be the backbone of New York’s burgeoning tech scene? Crain’s New York Business thinks so, calling the F train a “powerful drawing card,” worthy of moniker, “Silicon Subway.”

Cornell and Technion have been arguing as much since pinning their hopes on Roosevelt Island–served only by the F line and the aerial tram–for the applied sciences campus. President David Skorton likes to call it the “F-train corridor,” arguing that startups will spin out deeper into Queens neighborhoods like Long Island City.

Queens advocates sound less convinced.┬áIndeed, one commercial broker told Crain’s that despite office rents as low as $19/sq. ft. and better vacancy than Dumbo, founders aren’t looking at LIC, although the F stop in Downtown Brooklyn might benefit. (There’s also the fact that the F stop in LIC gets out in Queensbridge Housing projects, which inspired enough hip-hop lyrics to fill an entire album.)

Rather, it all seems to depend on where startup-types make their home:

Talented tech workers are pitching their tents in Brooklyn bedroom communities like Kensington and Carroll Gardens, and in the morning rolling up the rails to their jobs in Dumbo and Manhattan’s Flatiron district.

In fact, lower residential rents at the end of the line seem to be Crain’s best argument for tying the F train to the tech scene at all:

That’s the case in Brooklyn neighborhoods as far out as Gravesend, where creative folks are drawn by larger apartments that rent far below Manhattan norms. Rents rise 10%, 20% and 30% as the F train tracks head toward Manhattan, and Brooklyn landlords are generally more inclined than their Manhattan peers to successfully cope with renters who, yes, have a low base pay, but just may have a higher capacity for racking up overtime or landing stock options.

These landlords know if stock options are worth anything, chances are you won’t keep living in Gravesend, right?

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com