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Inside the Walls of Brooklyn's Wackiest Office Building

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He has a beard worthy of Moses, and he's ready to lead Brooklyn's roboticists, parasitic energy costume designers, and mini-cupcake makers to the promised land. Of Fort Greene. He is Al Attara, owner of the 33 Flatbush Avenue building now known as the Metropolitan Exchange. Attara's owned the building for 32 years, about as long as he's had a vision for turning it into a start-up hive for creative types, but he's only putting that vision into practice now that the city's given up any claim to the building, which is in the Brooklyn Center Urban Renewal Area. "Once we get more people," Attara tells the Times, "I want to rename it the Brooklyn Arts and Design Area ? or BADA. Since we're in the BAM District, it'll be BADA-BAM."
For now, BADA-BAM is 50 percent occupied, plus the autonomous living system on the roof. Tenants?who've included everyone from biotechnologists to organic fashion designers to coffee importers?pay about $400/month for their desks. (When they move in, they're also invited to use anything from Attara's 32-year-old collection of furniture and debris.) To pay his $180,000/year in real estate taxes, Attara hopes to bring in a ground-floor food emporium and a "civic-minded small business" on a higher floor. Eventually, Attara might offer the tenants collective building ownership. Bada-bam!
· Seven Stories, and Loads of Ideas, in Brooklyn [NYT]
· Official Website: MEx [metropolitanexchange.org]
· Floating Self-Sufficient Artist Commune Gets Landlocked [Curbed]