Lofts for Artists — in 1963


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October 3, 1963, Vol. VIII, No. 50

W. Village Artist Housing Step Closer to Reality

By Susan Goodman

An experiment in providing inexpensive artists’ housing moved a small step closer to reality this week when two West Village loft buildings were auctioned off to a community group. A model technique for encouraging painters to stay in the city may evolve from the sale, if all goes as planned.

The city Department of Real Estate sold the six-story lofts on the northeast corner of Greenwich and West 12th Streets to the J.M. Kaplan Fund for $47,000. In December the buildings will be leased to the non-profit Committee for Artist Housing, Inc., which will turn them into cooperatives. The artist cooperators will buy the lofts by gradually repaying the Kaplan Fund.

Ann Lye, one of the 11 Village civic leaders directing the non-partisan Committee, hailed Mayor Robert F. Wagner for his role in obtaining the lofts.

Through the Mayor’s intervention, she said, the city waived back local taxes and settled a debt owed to the federal government for $47,000. The properties were then sold at a public auction for what they cost the city. The terms of the sale limited the buyers to “non-profit organizations” which would use them for “the furtherance of cultural pursuits by providing facilities for artists” — i.e., the Committee.

“When you think of the strong, safe loft buildings all over the city, it’s shocking that so many artists have been forced to move to Hoboken,” Mrs. Lee told The Voice. “We want to conduct the experiment to show that the West Village lofts can be turned into legal, living studios for artists. If we succeed, then people like Kaplan can stake artists all over town.”

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