They’re on the road again.
City inspectors, firefighters and police officers cleared out the ground floor Meserole Street warehouse on Wednesday morning, leaving its 20 tenants mobile homeless.
But its tenants said they are willing to do whatever it takes to bring the building up to code over the coming weeks — including apply for rental protections.
“We’re applying for loft law status — we just want to find out what we can do to make everything save for everyone,” said Hayden Cummings, a resident in the space.
The warehouse has become home to a colony of artists and their trailers, which have congregated in the space for over a year under the monicker, the Bushwick Project for the Arts.
But a buildings inspector was not amused, slapping a vacate order on the warehouse on Tuesday after discovering that safety issues, such as illegal wiring and a woodworking shop in the basement, had not been resolved for more than a year.
“The way to resolve it is to remove the trailers,” said Department of Buildings spokeswoman Ryan Fitzgibbon. “The backyard is a violation of zoning, and the first floor is illegal use because it’s supposed to be a factory.”
And NYPD and FDNY officials told tenants they must move their RVs and property from the property or risk arrest.
“Nobody is allowed to be here on the first floor,” said firefighter John Hurley. “We were warned about fire hazards. We’re just following the Department of Buildings on this.”
But tenants, who have been paying rent for a year and hold a five-year lease on the space, said that previous inspections have been handled and the building is safe.
“I don’t know what the Fire Department considers unsafe now,” said artist Jason Tschantre, who lives in the space. “The warehouse has sprinklers, and front and rear egress.”
Many of those tenants moved their trailers to a lot behind the warehouse, but its property owner, the Long Island Rail Road, evicted them on March 13, sending the trailer park residents into a “Grapes of Wrath”-like search for nearby space.
Several tenants are preparing to file a lawsuit this week against the railroad and a cement mixing company that towed the trailers onto the street and damaged them.
But this time, tenants are frantically scrambling to pack up their belongings into their RVs before the police or the fire department show up again.
Bushwick Project for Arts founder Joe Diamond is optimistic he and his friends will return to their home soon.
“We have to get this place up to code,” said Diamond. “We’ll figure something out.”
©2011 Community News Group
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