Artists living and working in falling-apart buildings is the stuff of Brooklyn and Queens, not Chelsea, where high-end galleries and glassy office took over years ago. But wait! The Journal has a story about a building at West 21st Street and 11th Avenue where artists are paying $450 a month for a 300-square-foot space?half the average rate for the neighborhood. Artists have been occupying the building since 2006, when developer/owner Alf Naman invited them in while he planned the property's future. One painter described the renting situation as "pretty loose-goosey," as people pay a range of amounts in a variety of ways. Some barter artwork, others host events, at least one even lived rent-free.
Naman did not speak with the Journal, but the tenants reported that they must be out by September because the building is set to be renovated. "We always knew it would end," said one artist who's been building in 2008. "We just never knew how long it would end up lasting. It's been amazing."