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Two weeks after a stairway collapsed at a Long Island City artist studio and graffiti mecca critically injuring a woman, the building’s owner is working to persuade the city that the property is still safe to use.
“Hopefully, in a couple of weeks they’re going to come by and say we complied,” Jerry Wolkoff, head of Elmwood, N.Y.−based G & M Realty, said of the building that hosts Crane Street Studios and the 5 Pointz graffiti art program. Until then, however, dozens of artists who rented studios in the converted factory have no place to work.
Construction crews were busy removing the external staircases after one collapsed April 10, sending 37−year−old jewelry designer Nicole Gagne plummeting three stories to the ground, Wolkoff said.
Gagne was rushed to Bellevue Hospital after the collapse. On Friday, she was listed in serious condition, but she was once again in critical condition Tuesday, hospital staff said.
A representative for Gagne’s family said Monday that the Vermont native and Parsons School of Design alumna was doing better, but declined any further comment.
“We had to jackhammer it down,” Wolkoff said of the remaining segments of the staircase. “It’s mind−boggling what happened there.”
As work continued on the building, which dates back to the early 20th century, a vacate order remained in effect Tuesday.
Inspectors from the city Department of Buildings determined the collapse was due to neglect. Wolkoff has denied this is the case.
The city had no complaints with G & M’s efforts to address the conditions at the site.
“They seem to be complying with everything we ask them to do,” said DOB spokeswoman Carly Sullivan.
After the accident, graffiti artists working at the location created a piece on the exterior of the building saying “Get Well, Nicole.” Jonathan Cohen, coordinator of the 5 Pointz graffiti art program at the building, did not return phone calls requesting comment by press time Tuesday.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 154.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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