A developer seeking approval for expansion plans at two Long Island City towers privately met with community board members less than two weeks before the board’s deadline to weigh in, THE CITY reports.
Developer David Wolkoff is in the midst of erecting a pair of luxury apartment towers at the site of the old 5Pointz graffiti haven. Now, Wolkoff, who co-owns the property with his father Jerry, aims to build a slightly larger complex with more units and space for artists and the community.
His clandestine July 16 meeting with two Queens Community Board 2 members at Italian restaurant Manducatis Rustica is not prohibited under the body’s bylaws, which are crafted by individual community boards, accord to THE CITY. But the meeting raises questions.
Wolkoff did not immediately return Curbed’s request for comment, but Jerry Wolkoff told the reporting nonprofit that he doesn’t see any issue with the private meet up.
“I encourage my son and myself to meet with anybody in a community or anybody in the city… Why shouldn’t we?” Wolkoff told the publication. “I wouldn’t do anything where I would hurt a community or hurt individuals.”
“My son is the same way,” he added. “He will reach out to people to meet because I’ve always done that. We don’t hide. I’m a different developer. We meet, we listen, and if it makes sense we’re going to do it.”
Despite community opposition, the city approved a special permit for the luxury development in 2013. The plans called for the two towers to rise to 41 and 47 stories with 1,000 apartments, 12,000 square feet of space for artists, and 32,000 square feet of open space for the public
The Wolkoffs have owned the site for more than 20 years, and had an informal agreement with several street artists allowing them to cover the site in its recognizable graffiti that lured visitors from across the globe. After the area saw a boom of development, the Wolkoffs decided to transform the property into luxury towers, and in 2013, the signature art of 5Pointz was whitewashed over.
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 at the 5Pointz site.
Now, Wolkoff aims to stack additional story on each building and create 1,122 apartments, 15,000 square feet in artist space, and 32,245 square feet in open space. Community Board 2 has until July 29 to issue its advisory recommendation for the project.