Friday, December 7, 2012
Welcome to NYC, where anything goes
From the NY Times:
The old brick factory building on Banker Street and Meserole Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is just blocks from Williamsburg’s bustling Bedford Avenue, McCarren Park and the East River. There is exposed brick. There are stainless steel appliances. There is a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline from the expansive roof terrace, the perfect party space.
All of which made Oliver Fiegel, 35, and his three roommates eager to move in. Mr. Fiegel was from Germany, another roommate from France, and they wanted to experience Brooklyn loft life.
It was not until they arrived and encountered the single radiator, the sweltering loft bedroom and the kitchen light switch that inexplicably controls the bedroom lights that they decided to do a Google search on the building, 239 Banker Street.
The building, a former sweater factory, had a well-documented history — a local blogger, Heather Letzkus, has devoted nearly 150 posts to it since 2009.
To the roommates’ surprise, they learned that the building, with 74 apartments, had been converted into lofts without the city’s permission. It has racked up dozens of violations from the Buildings Department and incurred thousands of dollars in fines. In September 2009, an inspection found conditions so hazardous that the city immediately evicted tenants.
People in Williamsburg and Greenpoint have become used to looking the other way when they notice flowers and curtains in the windows of former factory buildings, and law-bending landlords are nothing new.
But this building has particularly galled its neighbors, who say it is an extreme example of gentrification run amok — and the city’s inability to do anything about it.