9 things to know about the McKibbin Lofts

mckibbin lofts bushwick
McKibbin lofts. Photo by Emily Paup.

I don’t want to come off like an egoist, but the place I live is kind of famous: the McKibbin Lofts. Located on the very western edge of Bushwick, these otherwise unimpressive buildings (one on each side of the street) have been the subject of their very own New York Times profile and have a hilariously unnecessary Wikipedia page. They’re known more for their parties and permissive attitudes of the residents than interesting architecture, and they’re wrongly maligned as a bedbug haven. But there’s a good trade-off for the grief. For a place with 12-foot ceilings, modern-ish kitchens and laundry rooms, a 10-minute walk to Williamsburg, a 10-minute bike ride to the waterfront and a two-minute walk to Roberta’s, the rent is stupid cheap. How cheap? I share a four-bedroom apartment for $2,500 a month. Want in? There are some things you should know first. 

There are plenty of opportunities to be a ludicrously awful neighbor. If the only time for your folk band to practice is at 11:45 at night on Wednesday, go for it. Need to blast garage rock while you make yourself breakfast in the morning? God knows I have to, and I do it.

To be fair, not all the people that live around you will be awful. I’m still friendly with my old neighbors. That doesn’t change the fact that people who are wonderful musicians in their own minds will surround you. Thin walls mean you will hear every tone-deaf voice, mishit piano key and repetitive techno beat that you can stand. One time I heard three girls a floor below me practice “Christmas Don’t Be Late” for three straight hours, and they never got better at it.

Every now and again, there’s a rash of home invasions, because people don’t lock their doors at night. It’s fun and all to think you live in an extension of a college dorm, but you live in Brooklyn, there’s some things you just don’t do. Like, y’know, leaving your door unlocked in the middle of the night.

dave colon of brokelyn
Author Dave "I am not a hipster cliché" Colon in his bedroom. Ladies? Photo by Emily Paup.

Come on, you don’t need an actual window to the outside world. How about a window to a room that has the windows? You still get light. Kind of.

The single most common reaction to the news that you will be living in the McKibbin Lofts will be along the lines of “Hope you like bedbugs.” I had bedbugs once. It was awful. However, I got them when I lived in a normal apartment on St. Nicholas Ave. No one who has ever visited my apartment has come away with bedbugs, at least to my knowledge. If one of your friends insists on scaring you this way, find some bedbugs (on the subway or at a movie theater maybe) and leave them on your friend’s couch. That’ll learn them.

mckibbin lofts kitchen shot
Dave's kitchen. Not bad!

I’m convinced whoever created the 248 McKibbin page was just having a laugh at everyone else’s expense. The “Notable Residents” section contains a list of people you’ve never heard of, and in the two years I’ve lived here, I’ve never heard it referred to as the “Art Dorm.”

One Friday, I had a party that made its way up to the roof. In the middle of all the fun, some M-Fing chad in mesh shorts and rubber flip-flops burst on the scene cursing and waving his arms, telling us to get off his section of the roof. The “Party All The Time” reputation feels more like a myth every day. There’s a hell of a view from the roof, a panorama of Manhattan, Queens and Bushwick. But we can’t even go on the roof anymore without setting off an alarm.

karate at mckibbin lofts
Count this as genuinely awesome: apartments so big you can teach karate in them. Photo by Emily Paup.


One morning, coming home from a long night of drinking, I pulled up to my apartment at the same time that a bunch of guys with badges attached to their belt buckles and huge guns were milling around. I thought they were there to bust me for drunk biking, but it turns out the FBI was in town to arrest some members of Anonymous, the hacking collective. You won’t get that living in Boerum Hill.

The “dorm” designation for McKibbin refers only to the loudness of the din around you. Unlike a real college dorm, no one is stumbling around from floor to floor and from room to room making drunk friends they’ll forget about the next morning. My experience has been that my neighbors are either uninterested in being social, not worth knowing or aloof despite looking like rockabillies covered in garbage. Don’t move there thinking you’ll make oodles of friends–and you’ll avoid some crushing disappointment.

Follow Dave (but don’t follow him home): @HerbertHaper.

mckibbin hallway
A hallway your parents won't like. Photo by Emily Paup.


    • It’s all relative I guess. I looked around a few other places here when I thought about moving and this is on the cheaper end of the spectrum if you happen to like north Brooklyn. Which I do.

  1. FuckYouHipster

    1. i live here. fuck off. we don’t need any more hipster douche-bags like you moving here. why do you people feel you need to publicize everything you do? 2. yes you are a hipster cliche. 3. this article is bullshit. get a job. and get out of my neighborhood. it’s assholes like you that attract more assholes who complain when people practice music and light off fireworks. some of us don’t mind that. and that is why we live here. if you want to be a hipster cliche move back to billyburg. or does living there make you too self-aware.

  2. MustacheMan

    “Hey guys check it out! Everything’s cheap over here and it’s under the radar. Quick tell all your friends! Let’s get their rent increased and bring more police.”

    • Oh god…what have I done? No one knew this place existed at all except for the people who read Wikipedia. And the New York Times. And all the cops responding to the police shooting down the block. My landlord just stopped by to tell me my rent is going up by 200 bucks a month. I am so sorry everyone.

      • realny

        nah dave you are a douche and mustache man is spot on. fucking blogs like this one just haaaaave to advertise about what they’re doing, and so when other lame potential transplants google shit about brooklyn, this is the shit they see. all of u fucking new brooklyn types are whack as hell.

  3. But the McKibbin lofts are in Williamsburg. The dividing line between Williamsburg and Bushwick is Flushing Ave. If you’d like to get technical, you’re part of the “East Williamsburg Industrial Park,” which was established long before the term “East Williamsburg” came to mean Bushwick in real estate speak: I find that most of the folks that I’ve met who refer to this area as Bushwick are privileged hipster types looking for street cred by saying they live in “the hood.” Dave, I know you’re not one of those people.

    I would also like to say that my roommates and I pay $700 less per month, live on the second floor of a massive (real) house, and have a living room, sun room, roof deck, and formal dining room. I’m also literally next door to the subway and can get to most places in Lower Manhattan in 20 minutes if need be. South/Central Brooklyn all the way.

    • 1. I don’t subsist on food anymore Tom, only street cred.
      2. If your house was so great, it’d have a Wikipedia page.
      3. Who needs a subway when you’ve got a bike?

      • Wow. Douche. And your Wikipedia page got deleted. Talking about a wack ass coffeeshop that closed and the owners crappy progrock band. That’s not  noteworthy. This couldn’t be funnier if it was a joke. Can someone tell me what an “internet-aware artist” is? LOL. You even list someone ALMOSt making an “indie film” there and then deciding not to. Real claim to fame douche.

      • 1. I wasn’t accusing you of anything. Sorry if you thought that.
        2. If only it did.
        3. But when the subway is next door. I’m also lazy.

        Clearly a “which Brokelyn writer has the best apartment” showdown is in order, though Tim would obviously win.

    • Yes, Flushing is the border. This isn’t that difficult… just because your other arty transplant friends heard from their other arty transplant friends that this is “Bushwick” doesn’t make it true. Bushwick is its own enormous neighborhood… the lazy press (and often lazy residents looking for “cred”) have needlessly confused its identity and location… gotta wonder how folks at Halsey and Evergreen feel about their supposed happening and hip neighborhood.

    • Doesntmatter

      You’re so cool. You’re really pushing the envelope by moving to south and/or central Brooklyn, whatever the fuck that means. For once it would be nice if parasites like you came into a Brooklyn neighborhood and didn’t act like Neil Fucking Armstrong landing on the moon. You’re not in uncharted territory, douchebag. We were here long before you even dreamed of chasing the big city dream as a tyke in Wisconsin. 

      • Unlike a lot of people in my age group, I know that there’s life in Brooklyn south of Park Slope and Crown Heights/east of Bushwick, thank you very much. After living in the northern part of Brooklyn (in Bed-Stuy) for awhile, I moved further south (to Ditmas Park) because I wanted to live in a safer neighborhood and a bigger apartment for the amount of money I was paying. Don’t assume things.

  4. Markgurarie

    Nice one, Dave, but having lived near said lofts for six years I can dispute two things: The first time I went there in 2005, there were bedbugs (my buddy got them in there) and people did in fact call them the “art dorms.” But shoot, that was like YEARS ago. And I remember that rooftop party fiasco, which is, of course, lame…  

  5. Christine

    This is a very confusing article. It’s like you’re simultaneously bragging about how awesome it is to live there while also pointing out how shitty it is. You think it’s “awesome” to live where people get arrested? Your rent is not dirt cheap either. I live a few stops out farther than you (in real Bushwick) and pay less than $500 for a fairly large room with three big windows, high ceilings, a real closet, and my own bathroom.

    I’m honestly not trying to put you down, just try and expand your horizons a bit. There are ~awesome~ and cheaper places to live that aren’t the McKibbin Lofts. I’ve seen some apartments there and it’s shudder-inducing what some people try to pass off as “bedrooms”. From what I gather, McKibbin is the kind of place where people “land” when they first pursue their Dream Of Moving To Brooklyn, then they realize relatively speaking it really sucks and move out after a year. Kudos to you for sticking it out!

    • To quote the Great and Powerful Tim, I think the point of the article was:
      A) the McKibbin Lofts exist and have a reputation
      B) to provide a resident’s experience both with the lofts themselves and with the reputation.

      I don’t think he was saying, “McKibbin Lofts: Cheapest Rent Ever!” or that it’s the pinnacle of excitement or Brooklyn living. People have written about it, and Dave’s just joining the conversation.

  6. Jimit

    I’ve lived here 8 years. Every couple months some hipster who just moved in writes about the mckibbin “loft scene” on their blog and how awesome and cheap it is. Then they realize it’s not that cheap, and that I’m actually living for free and charging dipshits like this kid $700/mo to “live the dream.” And they move out. It’s cool. The more press, the more I can get. The best was when the new york times wrote that mckibbin st “keeps it real” and that it’s a modern day bohemia. Makes it alot easier to find ppl who don’t mind sharing an 8 foot room. If any of your friends need a room man get in touch. You kids are like a cash machine.  

  7. C’mon dude, this is a hipster trash art dorm if there ever was one. Your picture isn’t helping your argument one bit, especially with the “I just got through puberty last week stash”. The bedbugs issue is something I have heard from tons of people who made the bad decision to live there….thus not a myth. I am really hoping this is a satirical piece. Because if you are for real about this you played yourself son and need to move back home with mom and dad in the suburbs. At least then your rent money would go to some good usage like a clean room and a cruise vacation for your parents every month.

    • Yo son, thanks so much for the kinds words son. You’ve got awesome reading comprehension skills because there were definitely tons of words used to talk about how this is the greatest place in Brooklyn. Your picture doesn’t do you any favors either, unless you were actually trying to go for “fat-faced jackass,” which, maybe you were.

      •  Yo do realize that this article is the moment you peaked in life… enjoy it while it lasts through the weekend. Btw, I am glad that I struck a nerve transplant. Now do everyone a favor and get out of Brooklyn since people much like yourself ruin it for everyone else.

        • no, the moment Dave peaked in life was when that mustache reached full potential. It’s all downhill from there. Also, why is “transplant” everyone’s default insult? Have you always lived in the same neighborhood you were born in? Isn’t that BORING? Also, Dave’s from Long Island, of which, last I checked, Brooklyn is a part.

  8. Peter Stuyvesant

    I am loathe to read such a mockerie. Thou’st are obviously new to this bouwerie. My countryman Jacobus Van Cortland resided in this abode and verily did aquire bed bugs. I wish thou wouldst take thine hipster bullshit back to Massachusetts Bay and leave New Amsterdam to us natives, for the excise I must pay to the Company tax my petty income far too much as is!

  9. disgruntledformertenant

    I lived in 255 for a month about a year ago. It was terrible. I had bedbugs. Bands (of greatly varying quality) playing 24/7. Earplugs barely made it sleep-able. The lofts themselves depend on what the previous tenant did with them/how much renovating you want to do. Mine was divided into 4 tiny bedrooms with no ceilings. The tiny kitchen had almost no cupboard space (what was there seemed older than the building itself) and crappy appliances.

  10. nostalgic

    I lived in 255 for one year around 2008.. It was awesome, a really cool and fun experience.. There’s also many other lofts nearby that are cheaper because they arent “famous,” though.. Anyhow, living in McKibbon does get to you and get boring and the novelty wears off pretty fast.. Mostly because the tenants and the landlord are kinda douchebags etc..

    But one thing, is that everyone moving in there thinks it’s cheap.. Theyve been jacking up the prices in that place so fast.. When I moved in, a three bedroom apartment was $1500, and everyone was bitching and alot of friends had left because in 2007 it was $1000..

    Thing is, I think it used to be really cool in about 2005 because it was actually dirt cheap, and a loft space but kind of shitty. But now from your picture they’re like jacking the prices up and making the apartments fancy and shit because it looked NOTHING like that when I was there.. Depends what you’re looking for I guess..

    Personally I prefer Greenpoint these days, the East Williamsburg/Bushwick people (who arent the locals) really fucking bug me, despite the fact that I am not local either..

  11. JaneIre

    I lived on Mckibbin two weeks. I was subletting with 8 other people who had all been living there for months when we discovered the one woman who had the lease in her name had taken or rent and security deposits, used the money for personal expenses and skipped fuckibg town. Go ahead and try telling me I’m an idiot and all the things I should have done to protect myself, but even the cops said there was very little we could do. There were so many of us it was difficult to coordinate the legal proceedings and the expense of taking off work and hiring a lawyer when we would probably never see the money again anyway… she got away with it. We paid by check, had sublease agreements and everything but sometimes even whdn you take every precaution the scam artists win. Besides that? Loved the area. Live off the gates J stop now in another pretty nice building. I just hate having to walk 15 minutes instead of 5 for decent coffee.

  12. Jeffersonstopismobetta

    I looked into possibly moving into the McKibbin lofts twice. Once in 2007 when I was contemplating dropping out of school and once 8 months ago when I was looking for a cheap place to live after getting evicted from a rent controlled apartment in the East Village. I searched long and hard and have a good understanding of real estate in NYC, born here, raised here, will probably never call another place home. I saw prices like Dave is paying and decided to look further out in Bushwick (past flushing). This was a great decision, around the Jefferson stop a lot of bottom floor apartments are being renovated and expanded (albeit illegally) and the landlords are asking reasonable rent. I get two floors with three huge bedrooms, two baths, a small kitchen, dining room, a massive living room, an unfinished basement for parties and a backyard…for $2400 a month. Since moving 6 new small restaurants/bars have opened withing two blocks of my place. There’s definitely better options only a few blocks east.

  13. jenny

    I lived in those lofts for around three years, probably way before David’s time, and I’ll say that some of the “misconceptions” he debunked in this article were categorically true when I lived there from around 2004-2007.

    -We DID have a rash of bed-bug infestations. It spread among 248 and 257 (I lived in both buildings at one time or another) for about a year, year and a half. Everybody was throwing their shit out because of it. It was a huge problem for a while.

    -Um, it was absolutely called OFTEN the art dorms. It was always kind of in the context of a joke, but “art dorms” and “party lofts” were terms used pretty much daily.

    -Also, the parties WERE insane. They happened ALL the time, and spread from one loft to the other. One party would get busted by the cops, and everyone would go next door or up a level and continue the party from there. My friend Erez threw massive legendary parties that covered entire floors there.

    -Sex with neighbors? Yup. Lots of it. LOTS. Seriously? Most of my experiences there can’t be shared in mixed company.

    -Friends with neighbors? Yup. Lots of it. LOTS. Back when Potion was open, you could hang there all day with Jen and Len (the owners, a lovely married couple), play scrabble, drink amazing coffee and hang with all your neighbors. It was a fantastic vibe. You couldn’t walk down the street without bumping into someone you knew.

    -Roof access? We used to have movie night up there with a projector. Literally a hundred people would be on the roof with blankets and beer coolers. And the parties were legendary. Hundreds of people on the roof with bands playing, a kissing booth, a section just for artists to paint the walls, dancing, water slides, skate boarding. And in the afternoon, all of us would grab a beer and topless sunbathe up there. It’s a shame there’s no access anymore. That was one of the best parts of the buildings.

    -The Wikipedia page was hilarious. I remember when it was put up. I don’t know how it got edited through the years, but originally it was pretty funny, but accurate.

    I went back after all these years for a film shoot just last month. It seemed a bit less raw, a bit more civilized and less interesting than when I lived there. They painted over all the graffiti, fixed the buzzers, cleaned the hallways, installed fancy windows. . . it looked nice, different. It’s a shame that the author didn’t know the McKibbin street I knew. It was a good time to be twenty-something and just starting out. I wish he would understand that McKibbin street has the reputation it does for a reason. It was like that for a long, glorious time.

  14. jenny

    Also: Just checked. Everything on the wikipedia page is totally factual.That thing on the wikipedia page about James Cameron Mitchell was TOTALLY true. They scouted our loft and aggressively tried to get me and my then boyfriend to be in the movie in their group orgy scene. It was hilarious.

  15. Janet

    That’s funny, cause my apartment at mckibben just found out we have bedbugs and upon letting our neighbors know, we found out that 3 other apartments (at least) in this building also have had bedbug problems. And we were informed by the exterminators that the walls of this building are prime breeding ground for them. You’re right, the apartments are fantastic and cheap, but not worth bedbugs in my personal opinion.

  16. I have made oodles of friends in McKibbin. And you are guaranteed to get laid if you hang out at Pine Box (which some would say is an extension of McKibbin). But just don’t tell them where you live before you take them home. #5 holds true.

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