Community Board 2 voted down 5Pointz owner David Wolkoff’s special permit application to develop the graffiti-covered warehouse in Long Island City into two high-rise luxury apartments last week, a decision that was well-received by artists and supporters of the building.
TimesLedger Newspapers previously reported on Wolkoff’s plan to raze 5Pointz, at 45-46 Davis St., by the end of the year in favor of two high-rise luxury apartment buildings.
Wolkoff presented his plans at a CB 2 meeting at PS1 back in May and asked for a zoning change to allow 1,000 residential units, all rentals, in a 41-story tower and a 47-story tower, which would be connected on the fifth floor with an esplanade. The design plans include an indoor pool, a gym, an art gallery and a 250-spot parking garage, along with a courtyard with a 50-by-200-foot mural honoring the building’s graffiti glory.
In addition, plans for the apartment buildings also include 30,000 square feet of outdoor space for the public in addition to 50,000 square feet of retail space between both buildings. 5Pointz is at 45-46 Davis St.
Residents, supporters and local artists packed the CB 2 meeting June 6, decrying the special permit application and calling on board members to reject the proposal, noting that 5Pointz is a revered destination recognized around the world not only known for its graffiti-covered facade, but for providing artists and children in and outside the community with an outlet to express their artistic and creative talents.
“5Pointz is ours — it can’t be taken away from us, unless we let it be taken away from us,” said supporter Angel Del Villa. “It’s one of the biggest tourist attractions in Queens. We’re not going to let you take it.”
Long Island City resident Jason Artiga said he opposed the plan for a number of reasons, noting that the building is a place where visitors can go to see free artwork and that its demolishing would cause a divide among the community.
“You don’t see MOMA being torn down, and it charges … we’re free,” he said. “If this new building is built, all you’re going to see is upper class — it’s going to turn people from the middle and lower class away. To knock down 5Pointz is to knock down a great museum.”
Members of CB 2 later voted against the special permit, after Lisa Deller, chairwoman of CB 2’s Land Use Committee, recommended to the board to vote no, citing the project’s “excessive size and unsatisfactory design, which fails to provide sufficient community benefits.”
She added, “The developer has not expressed interest or made a commitment to provide affordable housing within the complex.”
Wolkoff did not return calls for comment.
Stephen Cooper, co-chairman of CB 2’s Land Use Committee, cited some fair and acceptable community benefits that, in the eyes of committee members, should be provided by the developer if a large-scale project were to be considered. Some included free or low-cost, short-term public parking for people shopping or eating in neighborhood restaurants, improvements to local mass transit, a fund for local community groups, partnerships with local art organizations and a guarantee of affordable housing.
Cooper also stressed to artists and supporters that the vote to reject the special permit does not prevent the demolition of 5Pointz and that the board cannot stop that action from being taken.
“As a matter of right, they can tear down that building and build something,” he said. “If you want to stop that, you’d have to go and get it either landmarked or have it historically designated or have the art commission designate it. You’re going to have to go way beyond this room to do that, and I encourage you if that’s what you want.”
Reach reporter Chris Engelhardt by e-mail at cengelhard
©2013 Community News Group
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