475 kent is a somewhat infamous artist loft / behave of weirdos. According to the NY Times, the first hipsters moved into this building around 1998. At the time, it was in rough exterior shape, though still very much structurally sound. “It was dark and looked like it was going to fall down,” said Mr. Boroson, also a teacher at the Rhode Island School of Design. “The windows were cinder-blocked up, or just bowed and broken. There were weird bits of metal and wood everywhere. It was a patched-up, Band-Aided building in the worst kind of way.” The building slowly attracted more residents, despite the fact that it was an illegal conversion of a building still zoned for manufacturing.
All seemed well in this hipster paradise of approximately 200 residents until a very dark cold night in January of 2008. FDNY inspectors came across tons of (highly explosive) grain stored in the basement for use in a makeshift matzoh factory, along with a broken standpipe & sprinkler system. Not wanting to take any chances, they ordered an immediate evacuation of the building. Conspiracy theories spread fast. Those spreading the paranoia clearly don’t know how FDNY inspections work (they are rare, and often random – often occurring when they are called to the scene for some reason). Then again, the city wasn’t very forthcoming with answers in those early hours.
In the weeks that followed, many of the residents worked with the landlord to make repairs, and residents were allowed to return home in May.
Today, many of the same people still live here.
I had known about this building for ages, but simply never got around checking it out. My only interest in this building of course was the rooftop. I had known from previous trips to the rooftop of the now demolished Navy Yard Power Plant and the new Schafer Landing high rise that it would worth the wait at the door for someone to walk out. Sure enough within a few minutes someone did, and I helped myself to some quality rooftop trespass time.
The rooftop views is the tits.