Streams

SoHo Lofts: Artists-Only

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A long-standing law states that certain SoHo lofts be allocated for city-certified artists. Christine Haughney, New York Times Metro reporter, discusses the recent crackdown on tenants skirting the regulations.

Guests:

Christine Haughney

Comments [18]

Elle from chelsea

In the early 2000's for two years I wasone of two " judges" for the Dept of Cultural Affairs who reveiewed the applications for AIR certification. We volunteer judges are artists. We spent long hours discussing each application for an AIR certificate, doing the best we could to be fair in our decisions under the law. Informally we also often discussed the intent of the law and thought that it had long ago served its purpose and was causing problems for many SOHO apartment owners. The original intent was to allow creative and brave artists to move into a neighborhood that was non residential and industrial so that perhaps they could create a vibrant new neighborhood. It certainly worked and ten years later the AIR law for Soho was no longer needed and outdated. The AIR neighborhoods should shift with the times- moving to the South Bronx or Bushwich to encourage young artists to continue revitalizing areas of the city. The city is constantly changing,Soho has not been the breeding grounds of young talent for decades and the law should have moved on long ago.

Nov. 18 2010 01:02 PM
Jon from West Harlem

First, this law sounds like a fantastic idea. I am so delighted to hear that our forefathers had the foresight to put this idea in writing. I really hope that the city enforces it strictly.

Second, a caller complained that this law means that she will not be able to cash in on her property after living in SoHo for over 30 years and seeing real estate go up. I imagine that she will still get a fair amount of money, even for an artist loft, but in any case that is not a good argument. The point of the law is to preserve the nature of the community, which includes artists -- not to allow artists a sneaky way of getting rich of the real estate booms that they help create.

Your reward is not money, lady -- it is the fact that you got to live in SoHo for your whole life.

Third, Brian made a comment to the effect that the law seems unreasonable because a person who qualifies as an artist would not be able to afford the real estate in question. You should have heard me gasp and then groan when I heard that remark. The idea that Brian was expressing was that the price of this one particular loft may have been lowered from $8 million to $6 million, but that was still a lot of money for a genuine artist to come up with.

The obvious response is that perhaps the price will have to drop to $2 million.

Basically, the price will fall to whatever equilibrium the natural forces of supply and demand entail.

Finally, a big deal seemed to be made of the fact that Jon Bon Jovi is an artist and has a SoHo loft. This seems to me to be the most natural thing in the world. A musician and songwriter sure fits the idea of an artist in my mind. The fact that he is wealthy is neither here nor there. The law says you have to be an artist, not that you have to be poor. So what's the big deal?

Finally, I think it would be a good idea for the city to strictly enforce the law to standards that both ensure that the artist is a legitimate artist who makes a living through art, and that the artist is mature and successful. One way of proving you're a "real artist" is by demonstrating that you've made $2 million by selling your art. So I dislike the presumption that seems to be running through the discussion that it is a regrettable thing when poor artists are pushed out of a neighborhood.

An ideal upscale neighborhood is one in which the bohemian artistic community remains, but is slowly circulated through an ever increasing financial filter so that over time it retains only the ones who have "made it."

I suppose that over time the average age of the artistic community will probably go up as well (since a track record generally precedes financial success).

Nov. 17 2010 11:31 AM
-B from Soho

There are really two issues here. If artists own their lofts and ever want to sell and retire on the funds, then the restriction on only selling to other artists only lowers the value of their largest investment. If they rent their lofts, then they need the protection which is included in the rent stabilization and loft laws.

Nov. 17 2010 11:13 AM
bernie from bklyn

this is a ridiculous conversation....there is NO art scene in soho. no real artists live in soho. what are we in a nyc guide book right now? aren't we all real new yorkers here? everyone knows soho has nothing to do with the arts in any way unless you think buying a $500 shirt is art.

Nov. 17 2010 10:59 AM
RLewis from the Bowery

Does this new crack down have anything to do with the expansion of the Loft Law that Albany passed this summer?

Nov. 17 2010 10:59 AM
Mark from Brooklyn

What constitutes an artist? The city is home to thousands of artisans, craftspeople, designers and other people who support artistic presentations without being on the title page of the Playbill. It's the physical space required to create and build that makes these former factory spaces compelling; many such manufacturing spaces are now relegated to the far outer boroughs, or beyond the city entirely, thus diffusing the collaborative environment within NYC.

Nov. 17 2010 10:58 AM
Robert from NYC

Thank your Mayor for the outrageous real estate prices. All his developer friends are cleaning up, as it were, the city and in the city. NY will eventually be for the rich only.

Nov. 17 2010 10:58 AM
katie from Brooklyn

How long before someone opens a gallery specifically for bankers seeking soho lofts to hang their fingerpaintings and qualify as artists?

Nov. 17 2010 10:58 AM
Mark from Brooklyn

What constitutes an artist? The city is home to thousands of artisans, craftspeople, designers and other people who support artistic presentations without being on the title page of the Playbill. It's the physical space required to create and build that makes these former factory spaces compelling; many such manufacturing spaces are now relegated to the far outer boroughs, or beyond the city entirely, thus diffusing the collaborative environment within NYC.

Nov. 17 2010 10:58 AM
Rizzo from brooklyn

Soho's been done for decades. Walking down Broadway hurts my brain. Try Bushwick. Try Hunt's Point. Try Detroit.

Nov. 17 2010 10:57 AM
Artist? from Greene Street

I live in an artist coop in SoHo and I don't have artist certification. Am I in danger? Can I be forced to leave

Nov. 17 2010 10:56 AM
Mike from Tribeca

Are we talking about artists here, or just the same old trust fund babies with MFA's? Interesting interview by the way. I'm an artist who's been living in Tribeca, and it's been by skin of the teeth since the Giuliani administration.

Nov. 17 2010 10:55 AM
Robert from NYC

Tell them to go to Brooklyn, there's nothing better than Brooklyn, the guy in a previous segment just told us that. Don't you listen!

Nov. 17 2010 10:54 AM
David F

What legitimate argument can be made for limits being placed on artists access to affordable living?

Nov. 17 2010 10:53 AM
T.

The only reason people are paying this kind of money is the mystique artists put on the neighborhood in the first place.

Nov. 17 2010 10:52 AM
RLewis from the Bowery

Were it not for the artists making SoHo cool, it would still be a wasteland. Artists get no breaks in this city while bankers and brokers have laws written for them to get over easy on the rest of us. SoHo should be preserved for artists only. They built it; they cared for it; they deserve it.

Nov. 17 2010 10:50 AM
bee from bushwick

Get outta here. this is such a meta issue its not worth the time on your show. why don't you do a show on the REAL LOFT LAW that is actually impacting artists and not just Jon Bon Jovi. No one is gonna take away these rich peoples lofts... however it seems like artists ARE getting kicked out on the street and evicted by the DOB in Bushwick.

Nov. 17 2010 10:50 AM
Mike from Tribeca

Quoting your guest, "You can't be an older artist." Is that legal? Sounds like age discrimination to me.

Nov. 17 2010 10:49 AM

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