The destruction of 5Pointz, Long Island City's famous graffiti-covered warehouse, is imminent as owner/developer David Wolkoff expects to raze the building by the end of the year. At this point, the only things standing in Wolkoff's way are a zoning variance and (maybe, possibly) pangs of conscience after getting chewed out by LIC residents and graffiti lovers at public forums. One such forum was held last night at MoMA PS1. Ostensibly a Queens Community Board 2 hearing to consider the zoning application, it basically functioned as a place for frustrated artists and neighbors to express their extreme displeasure about the loss of 5Pointz (and the proposal for the two rental towers that will replace it) to Wolkoff's face.
While a few held out hope that the iconic building could be saved (one gentleman tried to rally everyone to form a chain around it on the day the bulldozers arrive), the majority in attendance seemed to view the situation more realistically, regarding the loss of 5Pointz as a foregone conclusion and just trying to make Wolkoff feel at least a little bit bad about it. Another gentleman spoke at length during the question and answer section about 5Pointz's cultural and artistic value, what a great experience it had been for his art students to see it, how many people visit the site from around the world, etc. When asked by the CB2 chair what his question was, he replied, "No, I made a statement," and stormed out to thunderous applause.
The meeting began with a presentation from Wolkoff and his team laying out the particulars of the project, which are as follows: Assuming the zoning variances are granted, there will be two towers, one 47 stories and 480 feet high and the other 41 stories and 420 feet high, containing a total of 1,000 market rate rental units (50 percent 1BRs, 25 percent 2BRs, and 25 percent studios). There will also be an enormous gym with a swimming pool, rock climbing wall, spin room, etc. and 50,000 square feet of retail space. The aspects of the project meant to benefit the community are a 250-car public parking garage (charging market rates) and 30,000 square feet of open space which will include 2,280 square feet of walls that artists will be commissioned to paint (because if there's one thing that graffiti artists love, it's being told exactly where to put their art). There will also be five artist studios which will charge "nominal" rent.
As far as the proposal went, public criticism ranged from the parking (wouldn't the added cars from 1,000 market rate apartments offset the benefit of a 250-car garage?) to the fact that the public space did not seem to be designed around the art walls to the design of the building themselves—one community member, after extolling the virtues of 5Pointz, concluded, "and you have the balls to propose these tasteless, glitzy, cornball boxes?" A bunch of people mentioned that the corner that 5Pointz is located on is one of the noisiest in the city due the 7 train.
Others were content to simply try to embarrass Wolkoff. After his opening statement about how his family had been in Long Island City for over 40 years and how he, too, was a member of the community, having grown up in this very area, one gentleman asked him what the name of grocery store across the street was. The following exchange occurred:
Wolkoff: Court Square Diner.
Guy: No, the grocery store.
Wolkoff: The ... deli.
Guy: Yeah, what's it called?
Wolkoff: ... I've definitely bought soda there.
It didn't save 5Pointz or anything, but it probably felt good.
· 5Pointz coverage [Curbed]