The threatening wheat silo that prompted the Fire Department to vacate the 200-odd residents of 475 Kent Avenue in Williamsburg on Jan. 20 has been removed, but occupants of the de-facto artists’ colony are still displaced from their homes and those with studios in the building cannot work.
After the Fire Department informed occupants that they could not move back in until the building is brought up to code, the tenants have amped up their campaign with a petition to Mayor Bloomberg. As of Wednesday, more than 2,000 people had signed the plea, which implores the mayor: “In the spirit of the cultural tradition that has long prevailed in this great city, I urge you to do everything you can to help those who work and live at 475 Kent Avenue to return to their studios immediately and to foster our common creative capital.”
DUMBO residents who were evicted from lofts at 247 Water Street owned by landlord Joshua Guttman in 2000 have also pitched in support for Kent Avenue residents, so “they get better results.”
Some of the occupants are even getting their hands dirty to fix the remaining safety violations at 475 Kent Avenue, including a broken sprinkler system. A few weeks ago a source dismissed conspiracy theories that landlord Nachman Brach encouraged the vacate order so the 11-story building could be converted into condominiums and that the order was payback for the death of a fire fighter last summer in a different building owned by Mr. Brach.