Google has expanded quietly and has not asked for public subsidies. “We’ve been growing steadily for the past 18 years without heralding trumpets, or asking for support from the government,” William Floyd, Google’s head of external affairs in New York said this month. “We’ve done it by the dint our own work.”
Still, Google has faced criticism in New York. The owners of some Chelsea restaurants said they are losing potential customers because of the company’s free-food-at-work policies. (San Francisco officials recently considered banning new employee cafeterias in the city for that reason.)
And some in Manhattan are wary that Google and other businesses will begin to spread into historic neighborhoods.
“My concern is that with Google’s concentration in that area, it’s going to pull in even more intense pressure for office development, particularly tech office development, in adjacent neighborhoods like the Village and East Village, where we are seeing it happen already,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
Mr. Berman said he did not oppose Google’s expansion in Hudson Square, which in the past decade has transformed into a commercial district, with many of its lofts and factories converted to offices for more than 1,000 companies, many in technology, advertising and media. Today, more than 50,000 people work in the neighborhood, and thousands more have made their home there following a 2013 city rezoning that allowed residential development.
But Mr. Berman said the growing demand for offices has led to the demolition of historic buildings, pushed out longtime businesses and residents, and resulted in modern office towers that are out of character with the rest of the neighborhood.
Chelsea has also witnessed rapid development over the past decade as it has mostly shed its working class roots and identity as a hub of gay night life. It still maintains large public housing projects, but is dotted with art galleries, new condominiums and expensive restaurants.