Earlier this week, a former squat, the Bullet Space at 292 East 3rd Street in the East Village, was turned over to its residents. Or, as the NY Post puts it, "Nearly 30 years after an eclectic group of poets, performers, anarchists and artists illegally occupied a burned-out East Village tenement, they've officially become a Manhattan co-op."
Back in the 1980s, many damaged buildings were abandoned by owners; enter the squatters, who then worked to make the buildings more habitable and stayed. In 2002, the city sold 11 buildings to Urban Homesteading Assistance Board for $1 each; the Villager explains, "Under the agreement, the squatters, with UHAB’s guidance, would bring their buildings up to code within one year, then buy them — for just $250 per apartment — and the buildings would become permanently affordable, Housing Development Fund Corporation" co-ops. The squatters-turned-legitimate residents also pay $614 in monthly maintenance costs.
Market value for the building is now in the $4-5 million range. While there are some who hate the idea of squatters getting the buildings, the Post reports that one Bullet Space resident "invested significant sweat equity and personal money into the building" and "remembers the days when the toilets were 'bucket flush' and heat came from wood stoves fueled by flammable objects hauled in from the streets." And some squatters aren't thrilled with UHAB: One building is suing UHAB over mishandling finances while others are upset with the restrictions on selling the units. According to the Villager, restrictions would force one resident to sell his unit at a building on East 7th Street for less than $150,000—and the resident says he's put in $150,000 of renovations into the 4.5 room apartment.