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5 Pointz redevelopment expansion gets unexpected community board support

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The luxury development is slated to include more than 1,100 apartments

A  five-story industrial building covered in vibrant graffiti.
The 5Pointz site before it was whitewashed and demolished.
Max Touhey

A Queens community board changed its tune and threw its support behind expansion plans for a luxury development rising on Long Island City’s former 5 Pointz graffiti haven.

Father-son developer duo David and Jerry Wolkoff filed an application with the City Planning Commission (CPC) in May to build 1,100 apartments and beef up the project’s pair of high-rise towers by one floor. Queens Community Board 2 initially wrote a letter to the CPC urging the panel deny the revision, but in an unexpected twist on Thursday night, the board backed the application with a 23-to-5 vote in favor of the proposal now that the complex includes 5,000 square feet for a library, THE CITY reports.

The developer initially aimed to stack an additional story on each building and create 1,122 apartments, 15,000 square feet of space for artists, and 32,245 square feet of open space. Updated plans presented to the community board Thursday show that the complex will feature 254 studios, 595 one-bedrooms, 261 two-bedrooms, and 12 three-bedrooms, an increase of 10 units from the last time David Wolkoff presented to the board’s land use committee in June.

Lisa Deller, the board’s land use chair, told THE CITY that the committee decided to support the plan due to a cadre of conditions, including the developer’s pledge to build 220 below-market-rate apartments and to increase artist studio and gallery space by 7,000 square feet. Deller also notes that the new library space could stand in for the Court Square Library, which may lose its home in the Citigroup Building.

Despite community opposition at the time, the city approved a special permit for the luxury development to rise in 2013. The Wolkoffs have owned the site for more than 20 years, and had an informal agreement with several street artists allowing them to use the complex’s buildings as a canvas, which lured visitors from across the globe.

But after the area saw a development boom, the Wolkoffs decided to transform the property into luxury towers, and in 2013, the signature art of 5 Pointz was unexpectedly whitewashed. The move immediately ignited outrage and prompted a lawsuit that resulted in a $6.7 million pay out to the 21 artists who lost their work.