time travel? a first person account of Early Loft Days in New York

parallels between 1970s Soho and 2010 Bushwick
There is a fascinating first person account of someone who looks forward (kinda, sorta, perhaps) to being under the new loft law on a Brooklyn blog that Brownstoner linked to yesterday. In broad outline, the story is similar to what was happening at The Dawn Of The Manhattan Loft Era (ed. note: read that title with a Deep Voice; it will sound better).

The common elements include very rough (relatively inexpensive!) space, absent or distracted landlords, a lack of building services, conflicted relationships with the Fire Department, a desire to stay under the radar, appreciation of Loft Living and The Envy Of Friends, and Anxiety about the future.

that new law
I hit the content of the law extending the loft Law, and the last minute political maneuvering that preceded and followed its passage, in my June 25,  loft law extension / what’s the big deal? UPDATED w maps. That is a rather long post (even by Manhattan Loft Guy standards), but here is the main relevant section:

that handwriting on the wall? creeping loft-ism

If there are official estimates for how many buildings will soon be subject to the new-and-expanded Loft Law, I have not seen them. (This unattributed "fact" is reported in the Bushwick blog on Tuesday:  "The law will now cover tenants in about 3600 more units in around 300 buildings who can prove their tenancy for 12 months or more in 2008 and 2009.")


Formally, the law applies only to buildings that already meet this criteria:  buildings in which at least two families have been living for at least 12 consecutive months in the 24 months of 2008 and 2009 (reports say that "two" will be amended to "three" families as the trigger for coverage). Only those buildings, and only if they are outside of the surviving 13 IBZs [Industrial Business Zones].


But I gather that everyone assumes that, over time, these grandfathered and legal residences will inevitably spawn nearby illegal residential use, which will come to dominate some of these neighborhoods, as happened in Soho and Tribeca. When (if?) that happens, the facts on the ground will inevitably require the landlords to upgrade and/or the City to legalize additional buildings for residential use.

loft neighborhoods are different, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, elsewhere
Here is fodder for a future post, building on this Bushwick = Soho parallel and yesterday’s Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle for Manhattan Loft Neighborhoods / Tribeca loses Bazzini, gains. Maybe a Grand Unified Theory on loft neighborhoods ….

The simple observation is that loft neighborhoods are much more changeable (in scope and velocity) than areas that have been ‘established’ residential neighborhoods for many years; when things change, they tend to change more radically and more quickly in loft neighborhoods than elsewhere.

Something else for the Manhattan Loft Guy to-do list. Regular readers will know not to hold their breath.

© Sandy Mattingly 2010

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