Last year, the Soho/Noho Action Committee tried to lead a push to round up all the non-artists living in artist-in-residence-certified lofts, and then strike the law from the books. Although the law remains intact, the fact that artist housing is becoming more and more difficult to come by is unavoidable. The Journal's Richard Morgan examines this fact in his article about the Hotel Chelsea tenants association's battle over the hotel's renovation. While King & Grove has been doing its best to smooth things over after buying out Joseph Chetrit, the tenants' arch-nemesis, and has offered them a rent abatement and room and board in a nearby hotel, that deal was only extended to the 38 units in the association, and its head, Zoe Pappas, admits that its been a while since they've had a new member. People moving into the hotel, which has been unofficial artist housing since it became one of the city's first co-ops, "doesn't really happen," Pappas tells the Journal, adding, "The place is kind of frozen." Similarly, at the Westbeth in Greenwich Village, the nation's first federally subsidized artist community, the wait list averages 12 years, and can be as long as 18. And when such communities become embroiled in struggles against real estate interests, they are seldom well equipped to fight them.
On the other side of the coin, very little new affordable housing for artists is being built. One exception is Related Companies' affordable tower at 529 West 29th Street, modeled after Manhattan Plaza, the two towers in Hell Kitchen that were famously occupied by Larry David (his crazy neighbor Kramer served as the inspiration for the eponymous character on Seinfeld), Tennessee Williams, Al Pacino, and many others. The 14-story, 139-unit Related building will have 70 percent (97 units) set aside for artists, 15 percent for local seniors, and the last 15 percent for locals of all ages.
· The Artistry of a Bargain Apartment [WSJ]
· Mapping 15 Manhattan Buildings Originally Built for Artists [Curbed]