From the Brooklyn Paper:
Gov. Paterson signed legislation on Monday to require illegally converted loft buildings to get up to code — a move that could make such residences safer, but at the same time could result in higher rents that will push out Williamsburg’s artists and the industries they live near.
The bill, known as the Loft Law, will extend rental protections to tenants living in the illegal apartments in former factories and warehouses in manufacturing zones in Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Maspeth.
As such, the bill’s champions heralded it as victory for tenants.
“Loft tenants finally have the peace of mind and protections that they deserve,” said Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D-Williamsburg), who worked on the bill for 10 years.
But such protection comes at a price, opponents say. Manufacturers and their supporters fear that they will be further displaced by a new wave of conversions and subsequent gentrification when landlords pass along the cost of their building renovations in the form of higher rents.
Mayor Bloomberg agrees. As the passed bill was making its way to Paterson’s desk, the mayor sent a last-minute plea to the governor urging a veto on the grounds that the bill would “send a clear and discouraging message” to industrial tenants looking to settle in the city by prioritizing residential ones.
“Residential uses, even illegal and unsafe ones, pay far higher rents than, and place enormous economic and political pressure on, industrial and manufacturing uses,” said Bloomberg. “Ultimately, the encroachment of residential uses in these areas will force businesses to relocate and, in many cases, leave the city altogether, along with the good-paying jobs and economic diversity that they support.”