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Dozens of Artists Losing Gowanus Studios

By Leslie Albrecht | September 28, 2015 3:07pm | Updated on September 29, 2015 6:59pm
 94 Ninth St. between Second Avenue and the Gowanus Canal. Artists and musicians who rent studio space in the building have been told their leases aren't being renewed.
94 Ninth St. between Second Avenue and the Gowanus Canal. Artists and musicians who rent studio space in the building have been told their leases aren't being renewed.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

GOWANUS — Dozens of artists are losing studio space in three Ninth Street buildings — an exodus that's a "huge loss" for the arts community citywide, a local arts leader said.

Artists who rent work space in three side-by-side buildings on Ninth Street between Second Avenue and the Gowanus Canal have been told the properties are under new management and that their leases won't be renewed, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Many have already left the buildings and some have been told they must clear out by the end of October, the artists said.

"For the overall arts and creativity in Gowanus, this is a huge loss," said Abby Subak, executive director of Arts Gowanus which runs Gowanus Open Studios.

"The implications for this go beyond Gowanus and are being felt by the entire artist community of New York City.”

Several artists have canceled participation in this year's Gowanus Open Studios when painters, sculptors and other artists will let the public inside their work spaces during the weekend of Oct. 16 to 18, Subak said. Typically, about 20 studios in the Ninth Street buildings participate in the event. 

Developer Eli Hamway leased the three buildings — 94 and 98 Ninth St. and 75 10th St. — for $21.2 million in April 2015, according to property records. Hamway could not be reached immediately for comment.

Hamway is involved in condo projects in Williamsburg and Prospect Heights. However it wasn't immediately clear what's in store for the Ninth Street properties. The buildings are in a manufacturing zoning district where new residential development is prohibited, according to city records.

The Ninth Street buildings were among the most affordable artists' spaces in Gowanus, Subak said. Many of the artists leaving the building haven't been able to find similarly priced spaces locally, so they're moving to other neighborhoods, she said.

Painter Kit Warren, who's rented space on the third floor of 94 Ninth St. for four years, said she's considering studios in Bed-Stuy and Sunset Park. 

Warren said the loss of the Ninth Street work spaces will be a blow for the Gowanus arts community, which had started to forge its own identity in recent years.

"Because we are losing the larger artists' buildings, the arts community in Gowanus will be more unfocused," Warren said.

"People were happy to come to Gowanus from all over to visit studios, and now this momentum will be lost."