WeWork executive Sean Black is no longer with the co-working giant after controversial comments he made about Jersey City during a real estate panel appeared in a Real Estate Weekly story earlier this month.
Black joined WeWork in March and was an executive vice president at the firm. Before that, he was an office leasing broker at Cushman & Wakefield where he had represented WeWork in a 2013 lease when the co-working firm took more than 120,000 s/f at 222 Broadway.
A spokesperson for WeWork declined to comment on the departure, and it is unclear if Black resigned or was terminated. REW was unable to contact Black.
At a Sept. 29 panel discussion hosted by CoreNet Global, an organization for real estate brokers and end users, Black spoke about what he looks for in a neighborhood when considering leasing space there for WeWork offices.
“Brooklyn has really emerged as this epicenter of where people want to be,” he said at the panel. “If you look at Jersey City, it’s so far ahead relative to a lot of different product it has, but it doesn’t have life, it doesn’t have vibrancy, it’s not cool, it’s got no vibe.”
He also pointed out that there are plenty of things in Jersey City to like, noting that developers have had success there, including the LeFrak Organization, which started redeveloping the Newport area of Jersey City in 1986 and is now working on its 17th residential building there.
The comments sparked wide condemnation on social media and it emerged that New Jersey news outlets had previously reported that WeWork has secured at $59 million tax credit to open in Jersey City.
NJ.com reported that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) approved $93 million in tax credits for One Journal Square, a $400 million high-rise complex being developed by Kushner Companies and KABR Group.
In addition, the EDA approved a separate tax break totaling $59 million over 10 years for WeWork to support a new 75,000 s/f incubator space for start-up companies.
In a press release issued by the EDA at the time, WeWork CEO and co-founder Adam Neuman said, “Choosing Jersey City for the expansion of our tri-state area presence would put us in the heart of a bustling community with all the amenities that are so appealing to today’s up and coming entrepreneurs, including access to universities, mass transit, and attractive housing stock.
“With our focus on supporting emerging companies, creating an amazing space with Kushner Companies and KABR Group within a lively urban setting like Jersey City makes complete sense.”
When contacted by REW this week, WeWork declined to comment on its plans for Jersey City.