A group of Bushwick activists announced its “reclaiming” of a vacant ground-floor commercial space at 1083 Broadway on July 20, along with publishing a press release obtained by Bushwick Daily demanding that the building owners, “turn over usage of the space to those . . . who have cared for their property and each other for the past year.”

According to the release, which is included in full at the bottom of this article, a group called The Gym was operating out of the space with permission from the leaseholder. The organization used the space to assemble and send out protest kits, Caitlin Baucom told Bushwick Daily. Baucom is a tenant of the residential portion of the Building and one of the organizers involved in the current occupation. In August 2020, after several months of using the commercial space as a protestor resource hub, the group was forced by the building owner to vacate. Since their removal, the space has remained unused and vacant according to the press release.

After being removed from the space, the press release states the organizers “continued daily operations on the sidewalk, storing supplies in the upstairs tenants’ hall and distributing hot meals, PPE, hygiene kits, diapers, clothing, legal, medical, housing, and cash assistance to and with our neighbors.”

The current call to reclaim the space was catalyzed, according to Baucom, by the reopening of New York and subsequent efforts “to transfer all of [the people housed in hotel shelters] back to congregate housing and all kinds of unsafe conditions just so that luxury hotels can reopen.”

Interior of the commercial space occupied by The Gym with an disassembled dresser in background and hammock in the foreground.
The space provides access to bathrooms, food, shelter and other community resources, said Baucom.

A primary reason that the collective wants to “reclaim” the space is to provide bathrooms, access to water and air conditioning or shelter [to the unhoused] if it is cold, Baucom told Bushwick Daily. 

“Within a 20+ block walk of here, we have NO: public bathrooms; water fountains; shade; green space or park; place to seek relief from weather extremes; place to sit down and socialize, indoor or outdoor, without spending money,” the release states. “We don’t have an NYC Cooling Center. We didn’t get open streets when the city shut down. Developers just closed the Food Bazaar at Broadway/Myrtle, the only real grocery store with affordable, fresh food.”

Dodworth Development Corp. owns the space. Bushwick Daily has reached out for comment but has not received a response. 

Exterior of lot with sign advertising it is for lease by JV MAC REAL ESTATE.
The lot, owned by the Dodworth Development Corp., has been sitting vacant since August, according to community organizers.

Looking forward, Baucom tells Bushwick Daily she hopes their actions will “encourage more people to organize wherever they are and with whatever tools they can and link together with other people doing the same.”

Their demands, outlined in the full press release below, include an end to the speculative market that drives housing prices up, that the city support its poor and working-class people, and that Mayor De Blasio signs City Council Intro 146 to move unhoused New Yorkers from temporary, insufficient housing into permanent housing. 

Full Press Release obtained by Bushwick Daily:

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 21, 2021 and has been updated for accuracy.

All images by Nicole Allen Viana.

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