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Developer-Dancer Truce Saves Williamsburg's Soul

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It's Williamsburg Gentrification Week at the New York Times! Yesterday the paper explored the uneasy relationship between Williamsburg's old-school Italian residents and the neighborhood's newer, hipper arrivals. Today the Grey Lady explores another conflict that's a byproduct of the 'Burg's newfound cachet: real estate developers vs. the artists they usually squeeze out. We say usually because this story is about the magic that can happen when these two disparate sides come together in the spirit of mutual gain. Choreographer and dance studio operator Elizabeth Streb had years remaining on her lease for the old warehouse at 51 North 1st Street. Developer Douglas Steiner bought the building with plans to flatten it for his 80 Metropolitan project. Ruh-roh!

Streb thought she was a goner, but Steiner ended up agreeing to sell her the building for exactly what he paid for it, minus the backyard, which was needed for 80 Met. Now the studio is safe, 80 Met buyers are lining up to enroll their oddly named children in dance classes, and Streb and Steiner are posing together for awkward photos. It's a happy ending! Except for Steiner, who admits he's losing money on 80 Met due to declines in the Williamsburg market. Still, he's not quitting the neighborhood, because its hasn't become "homogenized" like Manhattan. Streb is considering repaying her karmic debt by snapping up one of those $1 million 80 Met townhouses. An artist bailing out a developer? Williamsburg really is a magical place!
· Keeping the Artists in Williamsburg and Attracting the Bankers [NYT]
· Still Taking to the Streets to Honor Their Saints [NYT]

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