[Finance] A question for the community

Ken Good kengood at anonymousspeech.com
Sat Aug 6 18:47:38 CEST 2011


I apologize for the anonymity and the pseudonym, but as you read further I hope you'll agree I'm only taking sensible precautions.

I am the owner of a 3-story commercial building in downtown Manhattan. The building is centrally located on a 'high-visibility' block that is easily accessible from a large number of Subway and bus lines.

I am not a typical landlord. It has only been by a long series of freakishly unlikely events that I find myself the owner of inherited property.

Anyway, to get to the point, I would gladly forego maximizing my income from this property in exchange for the opportunity to fulfill my vision of creating a dynamic, creative, cooperative oasis in the midst of the desert of mercenary conformity that Manhattan has mostly become.

I have tried to fulfill this vision with the tenant who currently occupies the upper two floors; but, despite his being a self-described 'anarchist,' time has revealed him to be a monomaniacal control-freak.

I may attempt to force him out before the end of his lease, due to the increasing deviousness of his behavior. Otherwise, I will simply wait 3 years and refuse to renew his lease.

Either way, as soon a he has vacated, I will begin advertising for hackerspaces to be my tenants.

I've already half-written the ad in my head: 

"    Wanted: Creative, talented, non-corporate enterprises staffed by people who still believe in the        possibility of a genuinely communal and cooperative atmosphere. Below market prices for spaces in a premium location. Rents can further be reduced by the application of expertise to improving the building. If you can play nice with others and know how to cut yourself and your neighbors that most precious of all commodities, SLACK, then come on by and check out the spaces. Ideally I hope to rent to two, or at the most 3 separate hackerspaces, working in distinct fields, which will work synergistically to create something greater than the sum of their parts. Bio or botany hackers; netsec wizards willing to share their arcane wisdom so that individuals can gain the knowledge they need to battle Big Brother on equal terms; electronics DIYers who would like to see what applications Arduino might have in regulating and enlivening a whole building--all are welcome."

Or something like that.

Seriously, I've been wanting to build a roof garden/green roof (possibly with an apiary), a green wall, and a free hotspot that will be available to potentially hundreds of thousands of people each week (http://code.google.com/p/fabfi/wiki/WikiHome?tm=6) for years; but the lack of like-minded tenants has proven a major hindrance. I also tried to rent back a portion of the basement from my retail tenant so that I could pursue my own hacking ambition: The creation of art and useful objects made exclusively out of discarded objects (aka, trash), but he refused, despite the basement being unused and his business doing poorly. (I have many ideas and half-finished prototypes along these lines, so if anyone's interested let me know.)

The most urgent question I have now and my primary reason for writing concerns the following:

The Certificate of Occupancy for this building has been for 'Manufacturing" since around the 1920's, even though it has been used as offices and retail space for over 5 decades now. I am on the verge of beginning work on a set of plans my architect filed with the City in order to change the upstairs C of O to 'Office Space.'

Does anyone know whether hackerspaces could legitimately occupy the space under the current Manufacturing C of O, thus precluding the cost and inconvenience of changing to 'Office Space'? Would having generally be considered a benefit Manufacturing C of O to hackerspaces?

The answer to this question is very much time-sensitive. Work might start as soon as the end of September. However, if I learned that I could leave the building as is if leased to hackerspaces, that would be awesome.

Thanks. I have a lot of respect for your community and hope to someday soon be able to participate, if only marginally or in the role of a small-scale benefactor.

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