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More And More New York City Landlords Embracing Street Art

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Landlords used to erase graffiti from the sides of their buildings, but some have now embraced it.

As CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported, one landlord in Williamsburg, Brooklyn paid thousands of dollars to cover an entire wall of luxury housing with graffiti.

The 70-foot mural at 250 North 10th St. in Brooklyn pays tribute to Brooklyn bigwigs of long ago – including Brooklyn Bridge designer Augustus Roebling; his son, steel mill operator Charles Gustavus Roebling; and Williamsburg Bridge designer Henry Hornbostel, according to a published report.

"It's pretty striking, and it looks professional. I like it," said Sasha Evans of Wiliamsburg.

The neighborhood is filled with graffiti – some of it authorized, most illegal.

Developer LCOR decided to embrace the vibe, and spent more than $50,000 on art by the graffiti master known as Mr. Brainwash.

"Williamsburg is like that," said David Sigman of LCOR Development. "There's a lot of existing street art there, and it fits in well with the kind of aesthetic in Williamsburg."

Attitudes about graffiti are somewhat in flux. Creating unwanted graffiti is still a crime in New York City, and landlords who fail to remove it within 60 days can face fines.

But many have been paying bucks for the street art look, from companies such as New York-based Graffiti USA – whose clients include Facebook and LinkedIn.

"You see a lot of, like, young tech companies - if you think about it, graffiti art is pretty much like the only new form of art in our generation," said Victor Ving of Graffiti USA.

"It was always on the edge of kind of commercial art," added Sigman. "It was never really seen as collectors' art, and I think it's becoming more and more like that. People are viewing it as just an extension of the art market now."

But when it comes to graffiti, beauty is in the eye of the landlord. Those who do not want it may feel victimized.

And even the developer who paid for the Mr. Brainwash mural took steps to protect it.

"It's got a coating on it that should make it easier to clean," Sigman said.

The developer does not want graffiti on the graffiti.

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