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Williamsburg Degentrification Watch: Trip to Squatters' Row

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When the luxury rental building planned for 510 Driggs Avenue was revealed in early '08, the target audience was "Williamsburg's rapid influx of urban professionals," and apartments in the six-story, 50-unit building were expected to fetch up to $5,000 per month. "The target completion date is October, 2009, assuming work picks up speed," we wrote. In reality, rents turned out to be far cheaper?free, in fact! That's because work at 510 Driggs has stalled, and heroin-lovin' squatters have turned the property into a shooting gallery. So reports the Daily News, which journeyed to Williamsburg's burgeoning Squatters' Row and found "four current or recent squats clustered near Driggs Ave. and North 10th St., each littered with mattresses, clothes and bottles." Most squatters arrived in the 'hood just this past spring, so there was, in fact, an influx of urban professionals. Panhandling counts as a career, right?

While the story takes a bit of an alarmist look at the Northside ("the bums brawl on the sidewalk, shoplift and shoot heroin in trendy cafe bathrooms."), there's no doubt that the squatter issue will only mean more bad news for the hurting Williamsburg real estate market. But the squatters are doing their part to contribute to Williamsburg's upscale branding effort. Check out the catchy neighborhood slogan one gutter punk has already come up with: "I've got to sleep somewhere, and I might as well do it in Williamsburg." If that doesn't make you want to buy a penthouse in Northside Piers, nothing will! But is time already running out on Williamsburg's newest tourist attraction? An NYPD spokesman told the Daily News that cops would monitor the area and arrest trespassers found sleeping in the stalled lots. The next hot 'hood: Rikers.
· Punks invade Williamsburg as heroin-addicted hobos set up shop in trendy Brooklyn neighborhood [NYDN]
· All Williamsburg Squatters coverage [Curbed]