City passes plan to tear down 5Pointz in LIC

Painters further encapsulate Long Island City's 5Pointz building in a coating of aerosol art.
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The city approved a controversial plan Wednesday to tear down the graffiti mecca in Long Island City known as 5Pointz and allow a developer to build high rises in its stead.

The City Planning Commission voted in favor to allow the Wolkoff family to construct 41- and 47-story residential buildings that would house 1,000 units on the corner of Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, where the former warehouse currently stands, the city said.

The City Council now has 20 days to decide whether or not to also vote on the project, which lies in the district of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).

The councilman issued a statement in the wake of Wednesday’s vote that he would indeed be bringing it up for a vote.

“I will review the application at City Planning’s recommendation. I will participate in the City Council’s public meetings. I will also meet with various stakeholders and ultimately make a decision based solely on what I believe is best for Long Island City,” he said.

Part of the process will involve two public hearings.

Marie Flageul, who represents many of the artists who have contributed work to the building’s facade and interior, blasted the city’s decision to give the project the green light.

“So you exploit the artists, who do what they love because they are passionate, and once they have brought exposure to a neighborhood you kick them out,” she said, indicating the 5Pointz is one of the cultural anchors to Long Island City, which is rapidly filling up with high-rise condos. The painted warehouse acts as an economic engine for the burgeoning area, she said, attracting people who visit and breathe life into the economy.

Flageul also took Van Bramer to task, since the lawmaker chairs the Council Committee on Cultural Affairs but has not voiced opposition to the project, and promised to make artists’ and the neighborhood’s voices heard throughout the remainder of the process.

The Wolkoffs have owned the property for about four decades and asked the city for permission to build the towers larger than what zoning would allow, arguing they needed the extra space to make the project profitable.

Community Board 2 voted against the idea of allowing the Wolkoff family to proceed, but Chairman Joe Conley recently said subsequent concessions like affordable housing and integration with the neighborhood’s artists have made the project more palatable.

Borough President Helen Marshall gave the project the green light in July after hearing of the modifications made to the initial plan.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 1:52 am, August 23, 2013
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Reader feedback

Gabriel from Flushing says:
Dont let NYC lose its artistic soul!
Aug. 22, 2013, 8:23 am
a few things:
1. Wolkoff family did not maintain Crane Street Studios/5PTz building. After the city came in due to the 5-story external staircase detatching,and someone nearly dying, Wolkoff family performed superficial repairs. Building condemned on the inside basically and all us artists given the boot.
2. Wolkoff family waited to benefit from the artists pulling up the real estate market
3. 5pointz/MERZ - their graffitti has pulled in people from all over the world and brought business to area. Unfortunately, also brought in high-rises.
4. artists have all moved to other neighborhoods that will also benefit then kick us out.
Aug. 22, 2013, 11:01 am
Peter from Jamaica says:
Lets make Lic a further playground for rich non-NYers.
Aug. 22, 2013, 4:03 pm

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