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Charter territory: Artists evicted from Gowanus for school

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A booming charter school serving Park Slope will move into an artist loft, forcing out dozens residents, hip business owners and creative types.

Brooklyn Prospect Charter School will remodel and move into a Douglass and Third street building by 2012, displacing 100 people.

Landlord Jack Elo slapped tenants — including clothing designer Feral Childe, Zieff Photography and some 15-year residents — with eviction notices so that the 700-student school can demolish it and surrounding buildings.

Tenants are furious — not with the school, but with their landlord, calling him “a predatory developer” — and claiming he sneaked a “demolition clause” into their one-, three-, and five-year leasing contracts.

“Someone has to stand up to this bully,” said 15-year resident John Romano, who refuses to move out. “This is my home.”

Romano and other tenants said they asked Elo to remove a clause in the contract — which allowed Elo to boot them from the building — but that he instead simply moved the language to another section of the document.

They also said he gave “verbal agreements” that we “weren’t going anywhere.”

Elo would say only that the artists are full of it.

“It’s not true,” he said.

Whatever the case, parents in Park Slope and Gowanus — facing a dearth of good middle schools — care more about gaining a new school than the fate of temporarily homeless artists.

The move comes after mounting tension over where to house charter schools — and ensuing battles for space — has caused the Department of Education to withdraw plans across the borough.

Now, the school-versus-artists battle may be a sign that the blossoming industrial neighborhood is growing more family-centric like its neighbor, Park Slope — especially as signs of gentrification, like hip new restaurants and coffee shops, sprout.

Beginning in September, the charter school will temporarily rent unused wings of Bishop Ford Central Catholic HS at 19th Street and 10th Avenue for its 300 middle schoolers.

Artists evicted from the Douglass Street building hope the school stays there.

“We’re going to keep fighting this,” said photographer Karen Zeiff.

Updated 11:03 am, July 29, 2011: This story was first reported by Carroll Gardens Patch at http://carrollgardens.patch.com/articles/goodbye-artist-lofts-hello-brooklyn-prospect-charter-school, which should have been pointed out.
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Reader Feedback

jonb from carroll garden says:
let me get this straight. people public admit that they willingly inhabit an industrial building without a residential c of o and they think they have the moral high ground??
July 27, 2011, 1:18 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
How much will the owner of this charter school be paying for this, because they have a history of getting property either for free or at a huge discount?
July 27, 2011, 6:51 pm
Allison from Park Slope says:
Tal, There is no "owner" of this charter school. It's not a for-profit venture and the founders were given two free years of space by the DOE as every new charter gets. Also, I wouldn't say the area suffers from a dearth of middle school options but a new, excellent 6-12 school is a welcome one.
July 27, 2011, 9:45 pm
jdwal from Carroll Gardens says:
Get the facts correct, please! BPCS serves all of district 15, which includes Sunset Park, Red Hook, Windsor Terrace, etc...not just Park Slope. By saying they only serve Park Slope the writer is insinuating that it is elitist. In actuality the school is not-for-profit, is 100% lottery based, and has a weighted lottery for low income families.
July 28, 2011, 11:22 am

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