Wrecking Ball Looms For 5 Pointz Building
The graffiti covered 5 Pointz building at 45-46 Davis St. will soon face a wrecking ball under a proposal by the building owner to develop two high-rise towers - 41-story and 47-story residential towers that would feature a number of amenities, including a gym, media center, swimming pool, shops, restaurants, supermarket, a park and open air concourse – and open space for work by graffiti artists.
5 Pointz owner, developer Jerry Wolkoff presented the proposal to Community Board 2 at the board’s June meeting, saying the development would be an asset to ongoing changes in the Long Island City community.
Community board officials expressed concern over the size and scope of the proposed project, but agreed that a mixed-use development at the site would be a fitting next chapter to the history of the 5 Pointz building.
The 5 Pointz canvas has been a favorite of urban artists since the early 1990s, when members of the 5 Pointz Collective turned the former manufacturing plant into a spray paint palate of graffiti art. In each subsequent year, artists have filled the building with up to 1,000 new graffiti designs.
Graffiti artists gathered outside the 5 Pointz building last weekend and said they are “angry and disappointed” with the plans.
“They give us what – two walls, three walls for our artwork?” one angry artist said. “You’re talking about us losing 200,000 square-feet of open canvas – and that’s just not right,” several artists chimed in.
Local officials said the building has been an unofficial landmark for years, drawing tourists and art lovers to the area.
The block surrounding the 5 Pointz building was rezoned by the city in 1991 as part of the Jackson Avenue Corridor redevelopment plan. The new zoning allows large-scale development in the area that has undergone transformation into a mini-metropolis, where glistening towers have replaced worn warehouses and factory buildings.
Wolkoff purchased the building in 1971 and, for years, supported the work of artists who lived at 5 Pointz and in the surrounding community. Faced with mounting demands by city officials calling for major repairs at the 5 Pointz building, Wolkoff decided, in November 2009, to shutter the site and walk away for good.
A spokesperson for G&M Realty, which represented the iconic, 90-year-old building said inspectors for the Department of Buildings (DOB) produced a list of repairs that had to be completed in order for the site to reopen. Repairs included restoration of the facade, fixing indoor safety violations and removal of all outdoor staircases at the site.
DOB issued a vacate order for the 5 Pointz building in April 2009 after a tenant was crushed beneath an exterior staircase that collapsed as she was taking the staircase to the street. The city slapped G&M Realty with a $13,000 fine following the collapse, charging the owner with failing to maintain the building.
G&M had been fined previously by the Department of Buildings for failing to secure permission to turn the former factory building into a series of art studios.
Local residents said they are taking a “wait and see” approach to the proposed development plans, citing other developments that greatly improved quality of life in the area.
The $300 million-plus project is expected to bring large numbers of construction and construction related jobs to the area, providing a muchneeded boost to local businesses.
Community Board 2 officials will present the plan to the neighborhood at a series of Public Hearings and then vote to approve or disapprove the development.
If the board approves the project, the proposal will have to go through the city’s land use process and to the City Council for final approval.
If the development plans are approved, demolition of the 5 Pointz building could take place early next year, officials said.