Wednesday evening, Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee voted 8-6 to disapprove the proposal to rezone a portion of DUMBO that now includes many working artists’ studios from strictly manufacturing (under which studios, but not residences, are allowed) to mixed-use manufacturing and residential. Although the Committee gave thumbs down to the proposal, it will still go before the full Community Board at its next meeting in April (date and place to be announced). From there, no matter whether the Board decides to follow the Committee’s recommendation or not, it will go to Borough President Marty Markowitz. Should there be a “triple no” on the proposal from the Committee, CB2, and Marty, the City Planning Commission will not implement the rezoning. However, we are advised that Markowitz, as well as Councilmember David Yassky, supports the rezoning. So, stay tuned.
We have also learned that, despite our view that the rezoning could force many working artists out of studio space in DUMBO, artists there are not unanimous in opposition to the proposal. A DUMBO artist who supports rezoning says:
My opinion is based on one, the rent has already gone up in DUMBO. I have been here for fifteen years and seen many artists leave because they could not afford the rent. The artists that are left are already paying high rent.
The second thing I am basing my opinion on is, many artists live illegally in the work only spaces because they cannot afford to have two places. And I don’t know many artists that use their studio space for just studio space unless they share the space with other artists to make it affordable.
So, based on [these] two points, I think that the area should be zoned for what it is used for. The rezoning will help force landlords to bring buildings up to code and create a safer situation for the artists working and living in those spaces.
Ultimately, I think it depends on the individual’s situation. Some artists will benefit and some will not. For me it is a good thing.
Any other views on the rezoning proposal, pro or con, will be welcomed.