The Real Deal New York

Artists being priced out of Bushwick. Bushwick!

Rising rents at Vanbarton's 117 Grattan Street illustrate creatives' plight

December 03, 2015 11:12AM

Steve DeFrank

From left: Steve DeFrank and 117 Grattan Street in Bushwick

After fleeing rising rents in creative havens such as Chelsea, Soho and Williamsburg, artists who moved to Bushwick are seeing history repeating.

The Vanbarton Group is steadily raising rents at its four-story, 125,000-square-foot studio building at 117 Grattan Street, attempting to attract retail and office tenants, and pricing out some of the building’s artists.

Steve DeFrank, an artist at the the building, has seen the rent for his 500-square-foot space rise from $500 a month a decade ago to $925 a month this year. It will rise further to $1,100 next year, and to $1,200 the year after that, Crain’s reported.

The Vanbarton Group, formerly the real estate division of Emmes Asset Management, which bought the building last year for $21 million, plans to bring in retail and office tenants as current renters leave, though only four of the building’s 90 units have been converted from studio spaces to date.

“The more successful the marketing pitch, the fewer artists who remain,” Sharon Zukin, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College and the City University Graduate Center, told Crain’s. “That’s the paradoxical result. The artists provide character and color, a little bit of downward aspiration and a little bit of what’s taken to be cool.”

Still, the situation has not yet reached peak “Soho effect.” Despite the rent increase, most of the tenants, 82 percent, chose to renew their leases, according to Vanbarton. [Crain’s]Ariel Stulberg