Why An A.I.R. Building Is Unique To Soho

Soho was built as a manufacturing district in the early 1900’s liked with tenement housing on the north, east and west.  While manufacturing eventually moved out, uptown, and overseas, many of these buildings remained vacant throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Donald Judd paved the way for many artists in the 1960’s and 1970’s to move to Soho and Noho, purchasing 101 Spring Street for $68,000 in 1968.

Donald Judd Spring Street Floor

Donald Judd Spring Street Floor

Donald Judd Spring Street

Donald Judd Spring Street

Artist began occupying these loft buildings that were not zoned residential, and they converted these spaces to homes and their artist lofts.  There wasn’t a way to track who and how many people were living there, so NYC stepped in around 1971 to regulate.  NYC legalized conversions of these buildings in the condition at least one artist was living in each loft known as Artist-In-Residence (A.I.R.).

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The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs is in charge for regulating, and they have a listing of all buildings and residents in the buildings.  Under applicable state legislation and the City’s Zoning Resolution, certification as a working artist is necessary in order for an individual to qualify for joint living-working space in the M1-MA and M1-MB zoning districts (SoHo NoHo). This permits fine artists working on a professional level who demonstrate a need for a live/work loft to reside in specific lofts zoned for manufacturing. Pursuant to the City’s Zoning Resolution, the Department of Cultural Affairs has been designated as the certifying agency. You can read more here.

Today, these buildings are still classified as A.I.R. but entrepreneurs and finance executives are the most interested in purchasing.  Most buildings still contain a few of the original artists, and each building has established different rules for potential buyers.

An A.I.R. waiver is commonly accepted by many of the co-ops and condos.  This gives purchasers who are not in the arts industries the ability to purchase.

In the real estate world, people try to predict that A.I.R. buildings trade at a discount, but I would formally say that the A.I.R. buildings shouldn’t have any discount as long as both the seller and buyer get comfortable about what it is they are buying.