New York squatters become legal residents

May 17, 2009 at 12:31 PM
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NEW YORK, May 17 (UPI) -- An artist says nearly 30 years after he began living illegally in a New York building with several others, they are now legal residents of their abode.

Artist Rolando Politi, who squatted in the Bullet Space building with anarchists and fellow artists, said the once-abandoned five-story Manhattan site is now officially a co-op of one-bedroom apartments, the New York Post reported Sunday.

Not that Politi and his fellow squatters didn't initially consider themselves the rightful owners of the burned-out tenement nearly three decades ago.

"What is it they say, possession is nine-tenths of the law? That was our motto," he told the Post.

But former Port Authority Executive Director George Marlin faulted the city for allowing the longtime squatters to take ownership and take advantage of a real estate tax exemption for 40 years simply by bringing the building up to code.

The building is valued at $2.2 million by the city and worth up to $5 million by real estate market estimates. The squatters carry a $670,000 mortgage used to renovate the property.

"I'm outraged that property would go to squatters," Marlin told the Post of the city's low-income program efforts.

"Look at all the hardworking people who are losing their homes right now. Is it fair for squatters who badgered the city into giving them a building to now be able to profit from it?"

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