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Their Independence Day

The Brooklyn Paper
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The inhabitants of a massive Bushwick loft building want to secede from Brooklyn in protest of “destructive economic forces” that they say are running amok in this development-crazy borough — and all they need is a good venture capitalist to fund the revolt!

This Fourth of July, the residents of 345 Eldert Street will unveil a constitution for what they call the “United Studios of Eldert” at a massive party and art show.

After the Independence Day hangovers subside and the red, white and blue body paint fades, the leaders of the revolution will hit the pavement in search of investors willing to cough up the several hundred thousand dollars they need to buy their four-story, former-warehouse home from its owner, Carnegie Management.

If all goes as intended, the money will allow the U.S.E. to become a post-Woodstock, post-Williamsburg artists’ co-op where creative types will be able to live at below-market-rates in exchange for providing creative services to the building’s consortium of investors and owners.

“We are declaring independence and calling on God, other artists and investors to help us secure America for a creative, positive future and protect our place here,” said Hayato Matsushita, one of the 100-odd artists who live and work in the red-brick building, which is located on a quiet, working-class block between Irving and Knickerbocker avenues.

The residents have not yet approached Carnegie, which is building a large luxury condo next door. The real-estate company didn’t return phone calls from The Brooklyn Paper.

Like most of the people who live in the future U.S.E., Matsushita holds down a day job. His happens to be at an architectural firm, where he helps create the tall, glassy towers that are transforming the gritty areas where artists once found cheap studio and living space.

Beating the drum of anti-capitalist revolution, the leaders of U.S.E. intend to beat real-estate developers at their own game.

“I don’t think anything prevents us from competing with your typical corporation as long as there is a structure we abide by,” said resident Jean-Marc Petit, a 33-year-old multi-media artist and financial consultant who is also working on a similar real-estate project in Roaring Fork, Colorado — the “Bushwick” of Aspen — that caters to artists who have been priced out of the tony ski village. Petit has lived at 345 Eldert St. for six years.

“Development is happening everywhere,” he said. “It’s not a bad thing. Let the hipsters come in, let the families come in, but let’s keep the people that have been in the community there too, even the artists.”

And so far, the people who have been neighborhood even longer then the artists are amendable to creating an independent sovereignty on the block, with one caveat.

“I like the idea of getting a new state here,” said Wilson Allen, who lives in an apartment building next door. “But you have to have Chinese, black, white, Puerto Rican here. Everyone, not just artists, so we should call it the United Nations of Eldert.”

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