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Demolition of Former Arts Building Threatens Cat Colony, Neighbors Say

By Meredith Hoffman | December 21, 2012 10:15am

WILLIAMSBURG — First go the artists. Then...the feral cats.

A robust cat colony that's been clinging on to the former "Monster Island" artist space on River Street will soon be more homeless than ever, with the waterfront warehouse's long-planned demolition finally under way.

The feline gang, called by some the "cat condo," has occupied the decrepit-but-colorful River Street building for years, neighbors said, lamenting the uncertainty of the cats' future.

"I don't know what's going to happen to them," said Lara Pomerantz, as she explored the site Thursday. "It really does concern me...It's sad."

The artists, musicians and surf shop at Monster Island were all made to leave last fall when the owner reportedly decided to redevelop the property, located at 128 River Street. But the cats have remained at the site, where devoted animal lovers have brought them regular meals, locals said. 

Local resident Ward Dennis echoed Pomerantz's distress at the situation facing the cats.

"I'm concerned about what's going to happen to them," he said.

But neighbor Dave Whitworth was more struck by the felines' enduring presence over the years.

"It's like a hippie colony for cats — there were hundreds of them for years," he said, while walking his dog on River Street, where part of Monster Island — founded by the owner of Bushwick's Secret Project Robot DIY venue — was already demolished this week.

"My dog wants to eat them," Whitworth noted, as his dog tugged at the leash while moving toward the cats.

Whitworth said that people were upset at the end of the Monster Island era, but he claimed that the change was inevitable and part of the Williamsburg waterfront's redevelopment into condos and high-end shops.

"At the end of the day, it's a derelict building," he said. "It's sad, but what are you going to do?"

The demolition company handling the construction, Metro Industrial Wrecking and Environmental Contractors, did not respond immediately to calls requesting comment.