Once upon a time, there were areas of New York City, such as SoHo, that were once considered undesirable. Over the last four decades, property values and demand have skyrocketed. In the 1970s, lofts were used primarily by poor and struggling artists who could not afford a separate space to work and live. Inevitably though, these properties became highly valuable and coveted.
There were growing concerns that the city’s planning commission would demolish and replace the older buildings with high-rise apartments. Real estate developers were highly interested in the SoHo area in particular, for not only their location, but because during the time, the properties could be bought for relatively cheap. When the area began to grow, with numerous boutiques and galleries opening in the area, the pressure to develop the large and cheap lofts became further appealing for developers.
In 1982, the New York state legislature established the Loft Law, which was intended to enforce landlords to bring illegal living spaces up to code and standards. Unfortunately, the new law had devastating consequences. Many landlords simply evicted their illegal tenants, while others dramatically increased rent to exorbitant rates to help cover renovation costs. Most artists would be essentially forced out by rents they could no longer afford.
Artists were then forced to look elsewhere for affordable accommodations for living and work, such as Tribeca and NoHo. Many factories in these area had shut down and the industrial spaces with high ceilings were ideal places for artists. However, it wasn’t long before artists were priced out of these areas as well by development and increasing rent prices. In fact, many current lofts in Tribeca are now considered luxury apartments, a far cry from its humbler beginnings.
Artists chose NoHo for many of the same reasons, as it was cheap to live and there were industrial buildings with large interior spaces. Many famous artists lived in the NoHo neighborhood at this time, including Jean Michel Basquait. This New York-born artist created some of his best pieces in his loft on Great Jones Street in NoHo. It was also there that he died from a heroin overdose in 1988 at the age of just 27. It is now privately owned but is available to rent.
While once inhabited by the poor, that is is no longer the case. Thanks to their desirable aesthetics of high ceilings, big windows, natural light, and industrial appearance, in addition to prime locations in the city, lofts have become the quintessential city abodes for those who can afford them. A great example are these former artists’ lofts that are along Leonard Street in the TriBeCa neighborhood. At the top-end of the market is an apartment for sale for just short of $5,00,000 that offers 1,668 square feet of open-plan living, and a bespoke interior that retains many of the original features of the building. The apartment has its own sun terrace and many other amenities available within the building. These include a pool, a screening room, a sundeck, a library, storage for bicycles and a playroom.