New York

Lofty Fighting in Gowanus

In quite an unorthodox move, artists, small businesses and residents living in three lofts on Douglass Street are soon going to be given the boot…to make room for the Brooklyn Prospect Charter School.

Moving in Date

The Brooklyn Prospect Charter School plans to move in December 2012, and that means that the eviction notices have been sent out to some very unhappy tenants. Two new structures are going to built to replace the lofts, that have been standing since the early 1900’s, and they will be the middle school’s home.

However, each loft currently houses about 20 residents and some small businesses, including BK NY (a t-shirt and silk screening manufacturer) and Feral Childe (a clothing designer) among many others. Approximately 100 people total are employed in these three loft structures.

Jack Elo Changes Plans

Now, developer and owner of the space, Jack Elo, is facing off with loft owners like John Romano. Elo sent out notices demanding that everyone vacate, while Romano has filed a lawsuit to fight the eviction notice and has also filed with the New York City Loft Board to see if the building’s certified occupancy can be changed over to a residential zone.

Elo says that he’s doing nothing wrong. As he explained,

“There is no other view here. Everything we are doing is 100-percent legal. You cannot do any construction or demolition without getting a permit from the Department of Buildings. We are building two charter schools at this site, that’s what we are doing.”

Ready for a Fight

One quite disgruntled loft owner, Dana Matthews, invested $30,000 in her 5000 square foot loft over the last 15 years. She explained that, “That’s what artists do, they come to a very unfriendly neighborhood and they make it livable. We make it more culturally interesting and viable. Then we all get dumped out. This is exactly what happened in SoHo. Unfortunately, this seems to be the trend in New York City.”

Most of the business workers point out, as well, that the location is a strange one for a school. Located in the middle of the industrial section of Gowanus, and with a toxic canal only 400 feet away, it’s definitely a strange location.

Certainly, both sides are in for a lengthy fight.


James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)