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That planned luxury high-rise for Billyburg? It's only art!

Written by
Howard Halle

Personally, we've never gotten the whole Williamsburg thing. The old factory spaces there are drab compared to the ones in Soho's Cast-Iron district, and the housing stock is shabby compared to brownstone Brooklyn's. But hey, what do we know, right? Anyway, the lack of landmark-worthy buildings is why developers have been attracted to the nabe since artists made it safe for one-percenters (ok, maybe ten-percenters).

It certainly explains those high-res luxury condos that have been shooting up all over the place during the past five years or so. It also explains the project slated for 177 N. 9th St, home of Pierogi, Williamsburg's best-known contemporary art gallery.

Judging from the rendering slapped onto the construction shed out front, The Rook, as it's called, is going to be a very handsome, glassy sliver tower, boasting plenty of balconies from which residents can lord over the surrounding area. A two-bedroom will set you back $1.15 million as a starting ask, but if you have the scratch—and itch—to buy, there's an exclusive real estate agent you can contact, one Danny Goldshtein.

Except that there isn't: The whole deal, scaffolding and agent included, is a work of art by Andrew Ohanesian. The obvious point is to make fun of Williamsburg's rapid gentrification (a horse, which, let's face it, left the barn long ago), but it's of apiece with some of Ohanesian's previous works plumbing the dark side of domiciles. At the same gallery in 2013, the artist built a full-scale suburban house interior, which appeared to have been trashed by party-goers (think teens while mom and dad are out of town).

The Rook's residents would be too genteel for such nonsense, but while Ohanesian's scenario is fictional, it's hardly implausible. Goldshtein actually is a real estate agent, and Pierogi owns its building. Given the temptation of Williamsburg's skyrocketing property values, a real version of The Rook is all too conceivable.     

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