Tag Archives: 5Pointz

Supporters hold rally to save 5Pointz


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos and video by Angy Altamirano

The fight to save 5Pointz is not over.

Days after a Brooklyn judge issued a ruling against a request of preliminary injunction looking to protect the aerosol art on the graffiti mecca, hundreds from all over the five boroughs gathered at the Long Island City site to rally and show support.

The judge also dissolved a restraining order, allowing the Wolkoff family, owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, and developer G&M Realty to continue with any pre-demolition activities at the site.

The developers hope to build two apartment towers – one 47 stories and the other 41 stories tall – with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

“New York is kind of boring right now, they’re overdeveloping, they’re building these glass tissue boxes that are made cheap, have no souls and they’re destroying all our communities,” said Jonathan Cohen, 5Pointz curator, during the November 16 rally. “This is the heart of Long Island City community.”

According to the artists, as of November 13 they can no longer paint on the building and anyone found doing so will be arrested.

“I’m here till the end, I’ll fight till the last day,” said Cohen. “I’m making a promise to you today. I will let you people know if the fight is over. It is not over. He won a battle in a big war and it’s far from over.”

During the rally, artists and supporters shared their favorite 5Pointz memories. Some artists also sold T-shirts, stickers and canvases with their tags and art pieces to raise money for legal and operating costs. Volunteers walked around asking everyone to fill out a “Request for Evaluation” to the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to ask for the 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center Inc., located at 45-46 Davis Street, to become a landmark. Over 1,000 forms were signed.

MORE PHOTOS FROM THE RALLY

“This is the most beautiful building in the world, more than the Taj Mahal, because this building is a regular building that we made beautiful,” said Angel Del Villar, one of the speakers at the rally.

“There are a million people that want this building to stay up, across the country and across the world.”

Although the day brought in a peaceful gathering of supporters of all ages and backgrounds, Marie Cecile Flageul, a 5Pointz spokesperson, said she found the police presence at the rally to be ridiculous and unnecessary as she saw squad cars, large numbers of officers and barricades being brought into the area. She also said she was told the presence was due to a call received reporting a riot or march that had to be contained.

“The profiling is getting old,” said Flageul.

The presence got lighter as the day went on and the rally went on with no disturbances.

“We were able to tell people in our own words that it’s not over,” said Flageul. “That’s our god-given and constitutional right.”

The artists hope to organize another rally at an indoor venue before December 15.

Jeannine Chanes, a lawyer for the 5Pointz artists, previously told The Courier the initial lawsuit filed by the group will still continue. She also said they will consider appealing the ruling on their preliminary injunction request, based on a written opinion by the judge, which still has not been issued.

The Wolkoffs and their attorney, who were not at the rally, did not respond to comment as of press time.

 

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5Pointz supporters not giving up after judge’s ruling


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

Updated 5:45 p.m. : 

Although a Brooklyn judge has given 5Pointz the thumbs down, artists and supporters are still not giving up.

Judge Frederic Block of the Brooklyn Federal Court issued a ruling on Tuesday against a request of preliminary injunction by Jonathan Cohen, curator at 5Pointz, and a group of 16 other aerosol artists, which sought protection for the hundreds of unique artworks at the site. The judge also ruled to dissolve the restraining order, which was initially granted in October and then extended a few weeks later.

Lifting the restraining order means the Wolkoff family, owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, and developer G&M Realty can now continue with any pre-demolition activities at the site.

As of press time, according to the artists, they are no longer allowed to paint on any part of the building and any artist who does will be arrested.

The developers hope to build two apartment towers – one 47 stories and the other 41 stories tall – with nearly 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

According to Jeannine Chanes, a lawyer for the 5Pointz artists, the initial lawsuit filed by the group will still continue and they hope to get a trial. She also said they will consider appealing the ruling on their preliminary injunction request, based on a written opinion issued by the judge.

One of the important messages Marie Cecile Flageul, a 5Pointz spokesperson, hopes to get out is that although the judge ruled against their preliminary injunction, it does not mean 5Pointz will be demolished any time soon. She said the temporary restraining order was to protect the pieces of art that cover the building, not to put a stop to the demolition. She said a demolition permit still needs to be issued and things such as asbestos and rodents need to be removed from the building.

“Now we are really concerned because of the damage that can be done to the artwork. But as far as the building going down – no it’s not,” said Flageul. “You have to tell kids with tears, artists in a panic, ‘don’t panic, it’s not a done deal yet.’ At the end of the day, there are no wrecking balls at 5Pointz.”

She also said that the artists are still in the building until next month, and there are residential and commercial tenants that still have until January to move out.

“The building is not going to go down before 2014,” she said.

Developers agreed with the City Council to build and staff the two buildings with 100 percent union workers, bringing more than 1,000 jobs to Long Island City, and also increase the number of affordable housing units from 75 to 210.

5Pointz will hold a rally at the building on Saturday, November 16 at 3 p.m. to assure supporters that their voices matter and that the fight will continue, said Flageul.

“We are going to celebrate the building and show the people that as long as we are not giving up, no one should give up,” she said.

 

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Judge grants extension on 5Pointz restraining order


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

The small victories keep coming for 5Pointz.

Judge Frederick Block of the Brooklyn Federal Court granted Jonathan Cohen, curator at 5Pointz for the past 11 years, and a group of 16 other aerosol artists an extension to their initial 10 day restraining order on Monday, more than a week after they appeared before the court looking to file a lawsuit in an effort to stop the demolition of the graffiti mecca, according to Jeannine Chanes, a lawyer for a group of 5Pointz artists.

A hearing for preliminary injunction is now scheduled for November 6 in which the court will review the case, said Chanes. This also means that the restraining order has been stretched until 5 p.m. on November 12.

The restraining order means the Wolkoff family, owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, and developer G&M Realty cannot do anything demolition related to the property. The artists will also not be allowed to put any new art up during this time.

“We’re thrilled,” said Chanes. “It’s a really positive sign.”

The developers hope to build two apartment towers – one 47 stories and the other 41 stories tall – with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

However according to Chanes, one of the biggest concerns is the fact that the artists working spaces are expected to be in the second tower, which developers have said would only be built if there is demand.

Developers agreed with the City Council to build and staff the two buildings with 100 percent union workers, bringing more than 1,000 jobs to Long Island City, and also increase the number of affordable ho using units from 75 to 210.

 

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Judge grants 10-day restraining order for 5Pointz


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

5Pointz has won a small battle.

Judge Frederick Block of the Brooklyn Federal Court granted Jonathan Cohen, curator at 5Pointz for the past 11 years, and a group of 16 other aerosol artists a 10-day restraining order on October 17, after they appeared before the court looking to file a lawsuit in an effort to stop the demolition of the graffiti mecca.

According to Jeannine Chanes, a lawyer for the 5Pointz group, the restraining order means the Wolkoff family, owners of the site on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, and developer G&M Realty cannot do anything demolition related to the property for the 10 days. The artists will also not be allowed to put any new art up during this time.

“Truly it was a good result for us,” said Chanes.

The developers hope to build two apartment towers – one 47 stories and the other 41 stories tall – with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

However, according to Chanes, one of the biggest concerns is the fact that the artists’ working spaces are expected to be in the second tower, which developers have said would only be built if there is demand.

Developers agreed with the City Council to build and staff the two buildings with 100 percent union workers, bringing more than 1,000 jobs to Long Island City, and also increase the number of affordable housing units from 75 to 210.

Yet, the federal lawsuit, filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, claims the destruction of 5Pointz, which is home to over 350 works of unique aerosol art, would result in a violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, which gives visual artists limited moral rights and copyright law.

Chanes said that as far as they know, this is the first case of street artists looking for legal protection of their work in the whole country.

Although a lawyer for the Wolkoffs did not return calls for comment as of press time, according to court documents, both the Wolkoffs and G&M realty are claiming the artists had a “clear oral understanding and agreement that the site was absolutely going to be redeveloped.”

The restraining order will be lifted on October 28, but during the 10 days the judge will review the facts on the case and the group hopes to put together an offer to buy the building from the Wolkoffs or come up with an alternative plan.

 

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Artists file suit to keep 5Pointz


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

The fight is not over for 5Pointz.

Jonathan Cohen, curator at 5Pointz for the past 11 years, and a group of 16 other aerosol artists announced they are filing a lawsuit in an effort to stop the demolition of the graffiti mecca.

The announcement came a day after the City Council voted on October 9 to approve the land use application that would allow the Wolkoff family, owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, and developer G&M Realty to build apartment towers to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

One tower would reach 47 stories and the other 41 stories, with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

Developers agreed with the City Council to build and staff the two buildings with 100 percent union workers, bringing more than 1,000 jobs to Long Island City, and also increase the number of affordable housing units from 75 to 210.

Yet the federal lawsuit, filed in Brooklyn Federal Court, claims the destruction of 5Pointz, which is home to over 350 works of unique aerosol art, would result in a violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990, which gives visual artists limited moral rights and copyright law.

“It’s about respecting and preserving artists’ rights, integrity and reputation,” said Jeannine Chanes, a lawyer for the artists.

According to the complaint, in or around 2002, Cohen and Gerald Wolkoff agreed that the trained artist would take over as the volunteer curator of the aerosol art program at 5Pointz. Cohen was given full authority to control what works could be painted on the building, making sure none were political, religious or contained pornography.

“Plaintiffs’ honor and reputation as artists will be damaged if defendants act on their stated intentions to raze 5Pointz,” says the complaint. “Plaintiffs’ works of visual art have been incorporated in and made part of 5Pointz in such a way that removing the works of visual art, or any part thereof, from 5Pointz would cause their destruction, distortion, mutilation or modification.”

Chanes said the group hopes the lawsuit will prevent the demolition of the building and through fundraising they hope to raise the money to purchase the property and preserve and improve it to keep it as a part of the community.

“Over the last two decades, 5Pointz has become a Long Island City landmark, and has been feature in countless films, television programs, music videos and commercial photo shoots,” says the complaint.

Although the artists have until December 1 to leave the property, Marie Cecile Flageul, a 5Pointz spokesperson, previously told The Courier business will continue as usual with artists from around the world currently putting up their work and more making the trip to the borough.

A hearing is scheduled in Brooklyn Federal court on Thursday.

G&M Realty and the Wolkoffs did not respond for comment as of press time.

 

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5Pointz to become apartment complex after final vote


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File Photo

Developers have reached the final step in seeing the Long Island City graffiti mecca, known as 5Pointz, become two apartment towers.

The City Council voted on Wednesday, October 9 to approve the land use application that would allow the Wolkoff family, owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, and developer G&M Realty to build apartment towers to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

One tower would reach 47 stories and the other 41 stories, with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

According to Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, developers agreed to build and staff the two buildings with 100 percent union workers, bringing more than 1,000 jobs to Long Island City, and also increase the number of affordable housing units from 75 to 210.

“The concessions provided under the compromise will give Western Queens residents as well as artists a wide variety of interactive amenities future generations will benefit from,” said Van Bramer.

As a “commitment to the arts in this building,” Van Bramer said the developers agreed to keep the altered plans they made in July after listening to comments from Community Board 2, which voted against the application.

G&M Realty’s plan will now include an addition of 10,000 square feet to the initial 2,000 square feet planned for artists’ studios. Borough President Helen Marshall approved the application in July.

Van Bramer said the Wolkoffs have also given a written agreement to offer Jonathan Cohen, widely known as Meres and curator of 5Pointz, the chance to select art on the new building’s walls and panels.

“It was important for me to honor the history of the building over the last 20 years and to recognize what it had become to the graffiti and aerosol art world,” said Van Bramer.

However, according to Marie Cecile Flageul, 5Pointz artists are furious a second hearing, previously promised by Van Bramer, never happened and although 40 speakers stood up to speak at the October 2 public hearing, no one really listened.

“It was a beautiful horse and pony show,” said Flageul. “About half way through the testimonies, almost every council person had left the room. Every single person that took the day off to come and speak, wasted their time because there has been no follow up.”

Flageul also said to date no 5Pointz artists have been contacted or offered to work within the art studios or be featured on the art panels. There have also been no commitments in writing stating everything promised would actually take place once the towers come up.

“[The artists] feel disrespected, they feel profiled,” said Flageul. “We’re all volunteers. We all work our butts off.”
Although the artists have until December 1 to leave the property, Flageul said business will continue as usual with artists from around the world currently putting up their work and more making the trip to the borough.

“We’re going to continue doing what we’re doing. That’s the beauty of art, no matter how much corruption or unfairness there might be, right now we’re continuing what we have been doing for 11 years. We are going to continue the beautification of Long Island City,” said Flageul. “We’re never making the move. We’re here till the end.”

Star of Queens: Carolina Peñafiel, founder and director of Local Project, co-owner of Fancy Fox


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jason Artiga

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Ten years ago Carolina Peñafiel founded Local Project, a nonprofit arts organization. It has housed its headquarters and gallery space inside the warehouses of 5Pointz in Long Island City. Local Project gives back to the community by showcasing local artists and holding events with local groups.

“It is a very welcoming space, it’s open and free to the public,” she said. “You walk in, you’re welcome and there is always someone talking to you. It’s an easy access space and we get to live in one of the hottest spots in New York City.”

Peñafiel also co-owns an up-and-coming thrift shop called The Fancy Fox out of the space.

BACKGROUND: Peñafiel also became a self-taught production assistant, helping behind the scenes on some shows. She was also a photographer taking self-portraits as a tool to express  herself. Together with Local Project, she has worked with community groups such as the Queens Museum, Flux Factory, and many others curating art shows.

INSPIRATION: Starting the organization at such a young age and not having much knowledge of the art world, Peñafiel said there was no big inspiration at first, but now the impact the organization has made serves as her motivation.

“My inspiration to continue is the impact we have on the public and the people,” she said. “I get inspired by people, I like to be around them, that’s what keeps me going.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: Peñafiel remembers the group getting its first grant from the Queens Council on the Arts and being able to continue serving the community and local artists.

“When people tell me about their experience with Local Project, that makes me believe in what we’re doing,” she said. “When we see a result of all the work we put into things, there are always good memories to build.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE:  One of the newest challenges Local Project and Peñafiel have had to deal with is finding a new home for the organization once it was announced the property owners were selling the warehouses to construct two high-rise apartments. Yet, the nonprofit received the help from a local supporter and found a new home.

“The biggest challenge was trying to keep Local Project in Long Island City and then the angels came down to us,” she said.

 

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City Planning Commission approves 5Pointz land use application


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

5Pointz, the graffiti covered warehouses in Long Island City, are one step closer to becoming two high-rise apartment buildings.

On Wednesday the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the land use application that would allow the Wolkoff family, owners of the property on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, to build apartment towers to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

One tower would reach 47 stories and the other 41 stories, with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 30,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

In July, the developers altered the initial plan after listening to comments from Community Board 2 (CB2). G&M Realty’s plan includes about 78 affordable housing units, an addition of 10,000 square feet to the initial 2,000 square feet planned for artists’ studios and community use of the parking garage for below-market rates.

The plan also includes the installation of art panels on the street to continue to display artists’ works. There will also be a program to curate the works and establish a community advisory group to work with CB 2 before, during and after construction.

CB 2 voted against the owners’ land use application in June. However, constructing the towers is within their rights.

In July, Borough President Helen Marshall announced she approved the Wolkoff’s land use application.

The application still needs to be approved by the City Council, followed by the mayor.

“Once City Planning delivers the application to the New York City Council, which we anticipate to be sometime next week, I will call the matter up,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “By calling it up we will trigger a 50 day window in which the City Council must vote on this application. Once this happens there will be two public City Council hearings at which the public will be invited to comment and testify. I will review the application at City Planning’s recommendation.”

Van Bramer said he will take part in the public meetings and also meet with stakeholders to make the decision based on what he believes “is best for Long Island City.”

 

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Arts nonprofit raises funds for new space as 5Pointz set to be demolished


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Carolina Penafiel/Local Project

As the wrecking ball gets closer to 5Pointz, one nonprofit that calls the graffiti mecca home is now looking for help to fund their new space once it’s time to move out.

For the past five years, Local Project, a nonprofit arts organization, has housed its headquarters and gallery space at 45-10 Davis Street in Long Island City inside the warehouses of 5Pointz.

After the property’s owners decided to sell the location to construct two high-rise apartment buildings, Local Project was left waiting for the inevitable — and also wondering where they would go from there.

On Tuesday, August 21 the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the plan for the two towers to be built.

“Local Project belongs to Long Island City, everybody knows us,” said Carolina Penafiel, founder and director. “The day they demolish this is going to be very weird. I believe in changes, I believe in progress, but I don’t believe in mistreating people. They just want to get us out of here.”

On August 7, Local Project started an Indiegogo campaign called “Keep LP Spinning” to begin raising funds needed to pay for a new home, moving fees and construction. There is a $27,000 goal the group hopes to reach by September 30, when they must leave the warehouse.

Local Project is looking to move into a new space on 44th Road in Long Island City, close to their first location prior to the 5Pointz warehouses. The group was able to get this location due to the help of Susan Peters, a big supporter. Although the space is leased, Local Project still has to raise the funds in order to move in.

“We’re trying to grow and trying to provide a bigger place,” said Penafiel. “We’re trying to create an experience for people.”

Continuing the work with local and emerging artists to host exhibits and create community events, Penafiel said the new space will allow Local Project to give back more to the community. She said the new space will allow the group to be more organized and active, and to provide more services like workshops, afterschool programs and help for to local schools.

“We’re going to come in stronger and last longer if this comes true,” said Penafiel. “It’s like a dream. It depends on people. The hope is in our collaborators and those who want us to continue. We need the support.”

To contribute to Local Project’s campaign you can visit www.igg.me/at/LocalProject.

 

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Developers change 5Pointz plans, BP approves application


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo

After receiving harsh disapproval from the Long Island City community, the developers who plan to turn the graffiti mecca known as 5Pointz into two high-rise apartment buildings have decided to make changes to their proposal.

According to Joseph Conley, chair of Community Board (CB) 2, G&M Realty’s plan has been altered to include about 78 affordable housing units, an addition of 10,000 square feet to the initial 2,000 square feet planned for artists’ studios and community use of the parking garage for below-market rates.

Conley said the changes came after Jerry Wolkoff, whose family has owned the property for the past 40 years, heard of the community’s vociferous objections to the initial plan.

The new plan also includes the installation of art panels on the street to continue to display artists’ works. There will also be a program to curate the works and establish a community advisory group to work with CB 2 before, during and after construction.

“He wanted to make sure, before he moves forward, that he came back and met with a group of people to talk about how he could reestablish connections and solidify connection with the community he’s been a part of for 40 years,” said Conley. “The important part is that it shows his concern about the community.”

The Wolkoffs intend to demolish the graffiti-covered warehouse on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street and construct two apartment towers there. One would reach 47 stories and the other 41 stories, with close to 1,000 rental apartments, 30,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space between them.

CB 2 voted against the owners’ land use application in June. However, constructing the towers is within their rights. The Wolkoffs are continuing their application to the Department of City Planning to build to larger dimensions than allowed by current zoning rules.

“Our vote does not change,” said Conley. “It’s not a question that he will do a bait-and-switch. He will be obligated to [do] what he said as he goes forward. Mr. Wolkoff immediately made the changes without hesitations. It expresses his willingness to work with the community.”

David Wolkoff previously told The Courier that his family has and will continue to listen to what the community has to say.

“We had always taken into consideration what the community wants,” he said.

However, according to Marie Cecile Flageul, a spokesperson for 5Pointz and an event planner, artists were not consulted in the recent changes to the Wolkoffs’ proposal.

“5Pointz is not included in the plan,” said Flageul. “The extra space will not be given to any of the 5Pointz collective. We wished the community board would have consulted us before saying the changes are satisfactory.”

On Wednesday, July 17 Borough President Helen Marshall announced she approved the Wolkoffs’ land use application.

The application will be reviewed by the City Planning Commission, the City Council and finally the mayor.

 

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LIC resident comes up with plan to relocate 5Pointz


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Kris Schrey

As the demolition date of the graffiti mecca known as 5Pointz gets closer, one Long Island City resident has come up with a proposal to save the art that covers the building.

Kris Schrey, co-organizer of the Long Island City Parents Group, proposed moving the art from 5Pointz onto the concrete walls surrounding MoMA PS1 across the street. Schrey developed this idea after stepping out of a public hearing at PS1 in May during which the Wolkoff family, owners of 5Pointz, discussed their special permit application.

The Wolkoff family, which has owned 5Pointz for decades, plans to demolish the graffiti-covered warehouses on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street and begin construction on apartment towers by the end of the year. Although Community Board 2 voted against the special permit in June, the Wolkoffs can still demolish and build at the space in keeping with their rights as owners.

Schrey’s idea first appeared in a weekly newsletter for his parents’ group.

“Could there be a better synergy than between MoMA’s high concept art and mind-numbing street art of the aerosol kind?” Schrey wrote in the column. “This ‘concrete’ solution would provide a new, better, lasting home for your graffiti: more space, more visibility, more foot traffic and maybe the museum could even carve out some office space for Jonathan Cohen’s graffiti group.”

According to Schrey, the new apartment towers would bring residents that could help boost the businesses in the area and help the community.

But for 5Pointz spokesperson Marie Cecile Flageul, the idea came with good intentions but unreasonable solutions.

“Three walls at PS1 wouldn’t cut it. I think it’s a laughable idea, in the sense that it is funny and great that there is a parent association in Long Island City and as a resident he is trying to come up with ideas” she said. “But don’t you think before making a statement about this, you should have spoken to both parties involved?”

According to Flageul, if there were any need or willingness from the museum, MoMA PS1 would have already reached out to the artists. She believes the warehouse should be maintained to make the area cleaner and safer for both artists and visitors.

Schrey hopes to speak with members of 5Pointz and the community in the weeks to come and later present his idea to MoMA PS1 MoMA PS1 did not respond as of press time.

 

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Community Board votes down 5Pointz permit


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Artists and supporters of 5Pointz can breathe a little easier after Community Board 2 (CB 2) voted against the owner’s special permit application to develop the graffiti mecca into two high-rise apartment buildings.

The Wolkoff family, who has owned 5Pointz for decades, plans to demolish the graffiti-adorned warehouses located on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street and begin construction on apartment towers by the end of the year.

Although the community board voted unanimously against the special permit on Thursday, May 6, members warned that their vote was merely advisory. This means that the decision only applies to the developer’s application to build the proposed building larger than allowed by the current zoning rules. It does not stop the demolition of 5Pointz.

“As a matter of right, they can tear down that building and build something,” said Stephen Cooper, co-chair of CB 2’s land use committee. “If you want to stop that, you have to go and get it either landmarked or have it historically designated or have the art commission designate it. You’re going to have to go way beyond this room to do that, and I encourage you, if that’s what you want.”

Plans for the buildings — one reaching 47 stories and the other 41 stories — include close to 1,000 rental apartments, 30,000-square-feet of outdoor public space and 50,000-square-feet of retail space between them.

Upon listening to supporters who spoke during the public comment session of the board meeting — with one breaking into a rap song and another in tears — CB2 made the decision noting the proposed project is too excessive and “fails to address the impact on the community.”

On behalf of the board, Cooper said in order for such a large project to be considered, the developer must in return provide benefits for the community. Some of these include improvements to local mass transit, a percentage of the units in the buildings designated as affordable housing, partnership with local art organizations and a fund for local community groups.

After hearing the board’s decision, David Wolkoff said he was “disappointed” with the vote but will still continue moving forward.

“It’s disappointing but it’s a democratic process,” said Wolkoff. “We’ll move forward and I’m confident we’ll build the building we want.”

Although the construction of the buildings is still scheduled for 2014, Wolkoff plans to continue listening to the considerations and ideas from the community his family has been a part of for the past 40 years.

“I — we — will listen to all of them,” said Wolkoff. “We have always taken into considerations what the community wants.”

 

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Artists, residents voice outrage over 5Pointz demolition


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

File photo / THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

5Pointz will soon be gone, replaced by two high-rise apartment buildings.

At a public hearing hosted by Community Board (CB) 2 on Wednesday area residents packed the MoMA PS 1 lobby to discuss the special permit application by thee Wolkoff family, owners of 5Pointz for decades, to build the complex.

The plan looks to demolish the graffiti adorned warehouses, located on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, and begin the construction of the rental apartment towers by the end of the year.

“It [Long Island City] is in the midst of great change, positive change,” said David Wolkoff, who is leading the development. “We believe that with the new and attractive addition to the Jackson Avenue corridor that we are adding to this fantastic transition. It’s a transition from the past and present into the future.”

The two buildings, one reaching 47 stories and the other 41 stories, are planned to have close to 1,000 rental apartments, 30,000-square-feet of outdoor public space and 50,000-square-feet of retail space on the first two floors.

But residents and members of the Long Island City art community are looking to save their “beautiful landmark.”

For the past 11 years, 5Pointz has welcomed aerosol artists to use the property, free of charge, just as long as the art was community friendly. Through that time, the warehouse has blossomed into an canvas for artists from all over the world.

Trying to keep the art community involved in the development, Wolkoff said the plans include art walls where murals can be painted, seven artists’ working spaces and a gallery for works to be presented.

“The building will be a homage to art and artists while creating a new and wonderfully exciting place to live and to play,” said Wolkoff.

Yet, though Wolkoff strongly emphasized continuing to work with the art community, members of the audience, including artists who have left their marks on 5Pointz, questioned his intentions and voiced their opposition to the proposed plan.

“In the past when development happens, the neighborhood is going to change and I’m not sure if the local artists are going to be here,” said Gabriel Roldos of Local Project, an arts nonprofit which is one of the tenants at 5Pointz.

Jonathan Cohen, founder and curator of 5Pointz, took the stand Wednesday night to thank the Wolkoff family for giving him the chance to take on the project 11 years ago.

Yet Cohen’s appreciation quickly shifted to disappointment.

“My only regret is that the same people who allowed me to, unknowingly, create such a cultural gem don’t see it as I do,” said Cohen.

As the meeting progressed, protesters gathered outside holding signs against the floor-to-ceiling windows. Some of the signs, reading “FOR THE GOOD OF L.I.C.? OR THE…WEALTH OF WOLKOFF??”, accused the family of neighborhood neglect and one sign asked CB2 chair Joseph Conley to listen to the community carefully.

“In America there is change, but there are also some things that ought not be changed,” said George Colon, a graffiti artist and founder of SSB, one the largest graffiti crews in New York City. “If the price of this is worth the future generations, then it’s your conscience.”

Angel Del Villar, whose claim that the community owns the building was met with cheers, asked those present to join him in the future to make a chain around the building to prevent the demolition.

“Do you guys think that any of that stuff is as attractive as the most beautiful building in the whole world,” asked Del Villar. “Is it mandatory to change things we’ve gotten right? Why don’t we change the things we’ve gotten wrong?”

Community Board 2 will vote on the special permit application at its next meeting on June 6 and if the first step is approved, 5Pointz is planned to be demolished by the end of the year, with the first tower constructed by 2015.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. High of 86. Winds from the South at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%. Wednesday night: Overcast with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. Low of 70. Winds from the SSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: International Star Andy Statman Plays Mandolin and Clarinet

Considered one of the world’s premier mandolinists and clarinetists, the Grammy-nominated musician Andy Statman has played with everyone from Itzhak Perlman to Jerry Garcia. This concert on Wednesday, May 22 at LeFrak Concert Hall, Queens College is part of a national tour in honor of Statman’s recent National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Anthony Weiner launches mayoral run

Anthony Weiner has officially kicked off his political comeback. Almost two years after resigning from Congress because of a Twitter sext scandal, the former Queens politician is running for mayor. Read more: The Queens Courier

Artists howl as developer moves to tear down Long Island City graffiti palace 5Pointz

Long Island City artists are demanding a local panel block a plan to tear down a world-renowned graffiti mecca to make way for a luxury housing project. Read more: New York Daily News

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Senior citizens hit hard by high electric rates in New York City

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Immigration fingerprint proposal would apply to NYC airports

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FBI kills Fla. man linked to Boston bombing suspect

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Rescuers comb Oklahoma tornado rubble for buried survivors

Rescue workers with sniffer dogs and searchlights combed through the wreckage of a massive tornado to ensure no survivors remained buried in the rubble of primary schools, homes and buildings in an Oklahoma City suburb. Read more: Reuters

After a decade in Long Island City, Local Project searches for a new home


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Carolina Penafiel-16

At the edge of Long Island City, where warehouses haunt like rusty fossils of an industrial past, obscured by the elevated subway tracks, street art fights for survival.

Encircled in graffiti-wrapped sarcophagi, the low brow legacy of Local Project and 5Pointz await doomsday, untouched by the sterile glass high-rises that erupt from the ground almost monthly — for now, at least.

It’s only a matter of time before the building they share becomes nothing more than piles of scrap metal and drywall dust. Several months ago, the space’s owner announced plans to sell the warehouse to a builder who would turn the space into luxury condominiums – “yuppie projects,” scoff the locals. Local Project, a space for emerging artists to nurture their craft and connect with the public, that shares a building with graffiti holy land 5Pointz, must depart their home in search of new prospects.

Carolina Penafiel, a part-time food stylist and Local Project’s founder, moved to New York from Chile 13 years ago in pursuit of her American Dream.

“I wanted to live like in the movies,” she said.

Penafiel began her career as an artist, but a bad experience during a group show changed her mind. It took too much to be an artist, to open her work to the masses, resting on talent and believing in the message behind her art. Even the title “artist” felt wrong.

“I’ve always done exactly what I’ve set myself to do,” said Penafiel. “Thankfully, I’ve always gotten where I’ve wanted to go.”

Instead, she focused on her administrative skills, training as an independent curator. She fell in love with the process of putting together a show, nurturing artists and watching them develop. One show called “Hot in Hell’s Kitchen,” held at the Fountain Gallery – a center for those struggling with mental illness. The exhibit told stories from the iconic Manhattan neighborhood. Visitors stuck notes to the wall, scribbled with memories from Hell’s Kitchen – “I got drunk,” “I met my ex,” “I kissed somebody.”

Penafiel’s shows center around creating community rather than bringing culture to high society. Local Project’s doctrine of art for the people allows her to build bridges – the most rewarding part of her job. Instead of judging artists based on reputation, Local Project celebrates unknown entities on the rise. Each resident artist is required to spend 40 hours in the building during their two week stint, creating a setting where visitors can dip into the work organically.

Local Project draws tourists from around the world. One artist, keeping tabs on the gallery’s visitors, had a person from every livable continent come see his show in a single day.

“That’s what makes us different from other spaces,” Penafiel said. “You get to come in and talk to the artists. How cool is that?”

Artists of all mediums present in the space. Every Saturday, a DJ spins for a crowd who dance and chat, huddled together in the chilly space. They host video festivals, including one of exclusively horror films before Halloween where the audience dresses as zombies and four times a year, emerging musicians play acoustic sets in a series called “Music under the 7.” Penafiel said they do as much as they can – as much as everyone wants to do.

But now, everything needs to go somewhere else.

They have begun searching for a new space – a topic not easily broached among the staff, unhappy about the move. For years, rumors of the demise of the building on Davis Street swirled. Now they are coming true.

It’s happening all too much in New York City – art institutions knocked down in favor of bourgeoisie-friendly entities. Penafiel mentioned DUMBO, formerly raw, now spotless and new like a suburban art fair.

“Unfortunately, we, the ones who helped bring [LIC] to that level are not the ones that live there or have stores there,” said Penafiel. “That’s just life I guess. I don’t know what’s going to happen in Long Island City.”