Charter territory: Artists evicted from Gowanus for school

Charter territory: Artists evicted from Gowanus for school
Photo by Tom Callan

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.

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