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Dozens of Bands Given One Month's Notice to Leave Gowanus Practice Space

 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 bands are scrambling to find new practice space after they were given a month's notice to leave a longtime Gowanus rehearsal building.

Bands that rent spaces from Flood Music Studios at 94 Ninth St. had notices posted on their doors last Thursday telling them to clear out because Flood's lease has been terminated.

"I regretfully have to inform you that as of April 27, 2016 at midnight Flood Music studios lease at 94 Ninth St. will terminate….Thank you for your business for the last 13 years," the note reads in part. The notice was signed, "Rock on."

The mass displacement is the latest chapter in the gradual emptying of a trio of buildings filled with working artists on Ninth Street and Second Avenue. Scores of artists have been told to leave since developer Eli Hamway leased the three buildings — 94 and 98 Ninth St. and 75 10th St. — for $21.2 million in April 2015.

Hamway could not be reached immediately for comment.

"It's really putting bands in a tough place to get out in only a month,” said Charlie Schine, a member of the band Yabadum, which has rented space in the building since October. "It's just another step in Gowanus becoming a bougie place to live instead of an industrial space for artists."

The acts leaving the Ninth Street rehearsal space include the well-known Yeasayer, which is releasing a new album this week in advance of an international tour. Band members declined to comment on losing their space because they've only rented the spot since January, a spokeswoman said.

Flood Music Studios did not respond immediately to requests for comment. The company also rents out music rehearsal spaces on 15th Street and Second Avenue in Gowanus and in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

Roughly 40 bands use the Ninth Street studios, Schine estimated. The spaces are rundown, with cigarette butts littering the floors and years of graffiti and band stickers covering the walls, he said. Despite the building's dilapidated condition, the studios were well-loved by bands, he said.

"It feels like there's a history there," Schine said, "It's too bad it's ending."

Jenny Dubnau, an organizer with the Artist Studio Affordability Project, said the loss of the Ninth Street artists' spaces is a "perfect example" of why groups like hers are pushing for tighter zoning laws and commercial rent control.

Although it's not yet know what Hamway intends to do with the buildings, Dubnau speculated that the developer will refurbish the spaces and rent them to higher-paying commercial tenants in the "creative tech" sector.

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To prevent scenarios like this, ASAP wants to tighten zoning laws that allow office uses in manufacturing zones such as Gowanus. They're also trying to convince the City Council to pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which would give artists renewing leases the right to demand 10-year lease extensions, among other protections.

"We need some concrete policy here because this is becoming a full-blown crisis," Dubnau said. "The cultural community of working artmakers is really being threatened."