For more than a century, the book business flourished inside two brick warehouses on South 11th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a block from the East River. Since the late 19th century, when the six-story structures were built between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue, they have often been occupied by publishers and presses, both recognized and rarefied. In recent decades, artists and performers moved in, but now they, along with the last remaining book publisher, may have to leave soon.
In the fall of 2004, a real estate concern, DOV Land L.L.C., bought one of the warehouses, which includes 36 spaces in which people live or work. Residents said the new owner made it clear to some of them that it wanted them to move out and began eviction proceedings against others. About three dozen residents in 13 living spaces went on a rent strike, and have withheld their payments for about a year.
This is sad because it's the the book publisher and the artists who have made the value of the real estate go up in the first place. I'd call for more laws to protect the arts in Williamsburg, but I'm also surprised that real estate developers don't see the value that the arts bring to their value. One of the reasons I moved to Williamsburg was that there are artist spaces and galleries to explore. It made moving from Manhattan not seem like a step down.
Without the creative element Williamsburg might as well be any other spot in Brooklyn or Queens. If developers were smart they would incorporate the arts into their plans as a selling point, instead of working against them.