Jerry Wolkoff to add affordable housing, art studios to 5 Pointz plan

Jerry (R) and David Wolkoff

(L-R) Jerry and David Wolkoff

Jerry Wolkoff, the owner of the 5 Pointz building, was livid when he learned that his plan to build two residential towers where the graffiti icon now stands was rejected by Community Board 2 last month.

“I wasn’t upset with the community,” Wolkoff said. “I was upset that my staff did not find out what the community needed and took them for granted.”

He said his staff would tell him that “things are coming along great” and that everything is going to plan. However, he said, it was clear that they were not in tune community.

Wolkoff said that he’s been involved with the Long Island City community for 40 years and has worked with artists and promoted their art for decades. “I’ve seen people grow up in this area. It is not like I’m from Manhattan (or elsewhere) and I have just bought a piece of property.”

“I would never have presented a building that I didn’t think had community support,” Wolkoff said.5pointz-350x234

Wolkoff, who was represented by his son David and a fleet of consultants at the community board meetings, continues to seek a special permit that would allow him to build 1,000 units–370 more than permitted ‘as of right’ by present zoning. The focus has not been on whether the graffiti icon will be demolished (Wolkoff can do that “as of right”) but whether he will be permitted to build so many units.

The community board, which plays an advisory role, sighted a slew of reasons for opposing the special zoning permit. They cited, among other items, that his plan made no provision for affordable housing, that it lacked a meaningful number of art studios, and that there was a lack of low-cost parking spaces.

Shortly after Community Board 2 rejected his plan, Wolkoff convened a meeting with several board members.

Wolkoff, who didn’t attend the community board 2 public meetings on the proposed development, said he went to the meeting and said ‘tell me your concerns and I will try and take care of them.”

Wolkoff said: “I was sorry that it had come to that point. “

Joe Conley, chairman of community board 2, confirmed Wolkoff’s desire for a meeting and his aim to learn more about the community’s objections.

Wolfkoff said he sat down with the board members and drew up a list of items the community sought. “It wasn’t a case of you give me this and I will give you that. I said ‘what are people asking for?”

Wolkoff told the board members that he would increase the size of the artist space from 2,000sq ft. (about 5 studios) to 12,000 sq ft.

Wolkoff said that when he learned that the public sought affordable housing, he revised his plan to include 54 affordable units. That number equates to 20% of the 370 extra units that the special permit would provide. He said that the units would be of the same quality as the market-rate units.

Wolkoff also said that he would display art work on the streets surrounding the development, as well as provide inexpensive parking.

Wolkoff said he would have included these provisions in the first place had his staff informed him of what the community sought.

Despite the changes, Community Board 2 remains on record as rejecting the proposal. The plan, which includes Wolkoff’s revisions, is in the hands of Borough President Helen Marshall. Her office held a hearing on the proposal on Thursday and is expected to make a decision on the plan any day now, according to her spokesman.

Should Marshall approve it, the plan will go to the City Planning Commission. While the commission could nix the application, it is likely to move on to the City Council for a vote.

Conley said that had Wolkoff included these provisions in the plan that was presented to Community Board 2 the vote may have gone a different way.

Wolkoff said that he would continue to work with the community to meet its concerns but realizes that he can’t keep everyone happy. He said that when he allowed the artists to paint on the building, he would get complaints from people saying ‘why do you allow this’ ugly graffiti. Now there are people who can’t stand the prospect of seeing the building go.

“Some people are never happy,” Wolkoff said. “Some people don’t like the Mona Lisa; they say she smiles too much.”

Proposed development

Proposed development

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25 Responses to Jerry Wolkoff to add affordable housing, art studios to 5 Pointz plan

  1. JdubNYC

    learnt?!

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  2. Mike Novak

    "Wolkoff, who was represented by his son David and a fleet of consultants"...Thats all one needs to know.

    Daddy, sonny and the consultants never "consulted" with the community.

    Let hope he is not like that scumbag Bruce Ratner who promised "affordable housing" as he and Bloomie used eminent domain to toss hardworking people out into the street, only to see that the "affordable housing" looks like it will never be built. Ratner can delay until 2035 and then pay a small fine.

    Only in Bloombergville.

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  3. Sick of Development

    I don't believe a word he says. Nor do I give Conley much credit. Fifty four units is a start, but he is getting 370 extra!

    How about he makes all of them affordable? Make this place nicer for the people who already live here! Don't push us out to make room for the overflow from Manhattan. Do you think we don't notice? Your protestations are insulting! You didn't realize. . . . Yeah, sure, I buy that. And, hey, do you have a bridge I can buy?

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  4. me

    what is affordable??? $2000 a month for a 1 bedroom.....oh that's right the "can't afford wanna be manhattanites" will flood this part of Long Island City>>>>>>>>>>>> Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh so sorry I forgot we're not Long Island City we're LIC ...another area destroyed!!

    2 more years and cya NYC done
    choking on these fake aholes moving & destroying NYC............................

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  5. SDO

    2K a month for a one bedroom in Long Island City? Surely you jest - try 2.8K and UP. My building in Sunnyside (south) finally broke the 2K mark on a smallish one bedroom (relatively speaking; the apts in my building are huge). The apt. rented within 2 weeks without being painted/prepped. None of us can believe it!

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  6. SDO

    PS Ironically, I went to high school with David Wolkoff...

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  7. Anonymous

    It is ironic and hypocritical to be disparaging towards the owner of this building and not see the selfishness of the people who benefited for free for 2 decades. The new plan seems more than fair and gives concessions to the disgusting mob.

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  8. db

    It is a real shame that no political or cultural organizations are advocating to preserve this place. It seems the deals have been made. It is essentially a bunch of artists and their lawyer trying to advocate for this cultural institution.

    A good comparison or model would be the Magic Gardens in Philly. Philly has a very different relationship to Public Art then New York, but we're talking about an art space that was preserved by the community and city. Today the Magic Gardens is a thriving tourist destination. Imagine a 5pointz preserved as a studio, artspace, etc. Multiply the Magic Gardens times a thousand in terms of the effect it would have on the economy as a tourist destination.

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  9. surreal estate agent

    Wolkoff never had to let that property be used for low-rent art studios or allow the building to be used as a graffiti canvas in the first place, but he did for nearly 20 years.

    At least give him credit for that. I can't think of any other property owner that can make that claim.

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  10. marie

    a few facts :

    The Wolkoff met hush hush with the cb2 after the no vote, and apparently guaranteed increased space for artists ? which artists , no one from 5 Pointz has been involved, and as of now, none of the studio space, nor gallery space is being offered to 5 Pointz. There has been no communication between G&M realty and the 5 Pointz collective, other than a letter of eviction and a phone call preventing the use of the roof, because I quote " people were mean to the Wolkoff family at the meeting.

    At the hearing with Helen Marshall , Mr Conley acted like he was part of the Wolkoff team stood in between them during the entire presentation.

    Mr Wolkoff indeed did not have to give the space to artists, but most of you need to understand that a lot of the artists that paint the building use to be tenants , and pay rent , till 2009 when the staircase collapsed. The low rent was a reflection of the poor shape of the building , it was a win win artists had space to work in , and G&M realty did not have to bring the building up to code , as artists are very low maintenance tenant.

    5 Pointz as a collective tried to rent more space on the ground floor back in 2010 , and started cleaning the space , the said space was taken away from the collective after fans started the save 5 Pointz petition.

    it is a difficult battle , and 5 Pointz today is an iconic site bringing a huge amount of tourists to LIC. Where are our elected officials ? 5 Pointz has been begging for a meeting with Jimmy Van bramer , without any success ...

    To be continued ...

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  11. Anon.an.on

    I don't like the term 'affordable housing', at what price point is housing affordable? If a luxury building rents the 1 beds for $3000, how much less would the 'affordable housing' versions be? And more to the point, is it fair that certain people get to live in the luxury building for less than others? I agree housing should be made available for all, but do those earning a lower wage really need to be living in a luxury building? Should those that have studied and worked hard and are now reaping the rewards by living in a nice apartment, have to share with those that arent. I myself do not live in a luxury building, nor could I afford to, I'm far from a wall street type, but I don't feel that because I earn a lower salary that I am entitled to a 2 bed with ensuite, roof deck and river view.

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  12. Sonny L

    I am beginning to wonder if we turned our backs on the wrong man. It sounds like finally someone cares about our community who could help us here.

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  13. Sonny L

    Naturally NOT at $3000/1BR/Mo but still

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  14. Tom

    5 Pointz is a huge cultural asset to LIC and NYC in general. It is what many tourists come to NYC to see, and are instead confronted with a sterile and boring city. Mr Wolkoff doesn't need more money, and if he really wants to do something for the community, he should work with the curators of 5 Pointz to develop it's full potential.

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  15. Tom

    and, Anon.an.on, 'is it fair that poor people get to live in nice apartments'? wow, that is an incredibly nasty sentiment. Most of us americans work hard, very hard, and the fact is that those born with money stay with money. The way the education and health system is set up makes it hard to break the cycle of poverty. I agree that nobody 'needs' luxury housing. That's not the point. The point is that New York needs affordable housing PERIOD. And if that housing happens to not be in run-down ghettos then that's a bonus! Have some empathy for struggling families and put your jealousy aside.

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  16. Anon.an.on

    @ Tom I disagree, it's not a nasty thing to say at all, I think it's a very vaild point that too many people are too scared to say. It is unfair that one person pays one price and someone else pays a different price for the exact same thing. That's not jealousy, that's sanity. I'm saying it should be fair accross the board, if you can't afford to live somewhere, then you shouldnt be living there.

    I agree that there is affordable housing needed, and I agree that it shouldnt have to be in run down ghettos, but inside luxury condo buildings is the complete opposite side of the scale. I would rather see affordable buildings dotted all over the city and queens.

    I think there are too many people that shrug theirs shoulders, blame their current situation on 'the system' or 'the goverment' or 'the schools', take no blame themselves, and then hold their hand out expecting the world to give them something for nothing. Now luxury condo's is to be added to that hand out list.

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  17. songline

    I love Art and always have. I think what the Wolkoff family is proposing is instrumental in making LIC a more desirable area for all concerned. I looked at the new building sketches and at the graffiti building too. I do not get the outrage at all. People want to live in nice places and when you give it to them they raise a stink, all for nothing. Graffiti is graffiti, and while talent did go into it. I think Art should be framed, and hung, and a nice area will help many in the long run.
    I do not see that the Wolkoffs are trying to do anything to harm the artists. Maybe instead of stores on the bottom they can have Art exhibits, galleries. Etc….

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  18. Mari Lyn

    Hello!

    I've started the petition "New York City Council: Stop the demolition of 5 Pointz" and need your help to get it off the ground.

    Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here's the link:

    http://www.change.org/petitions/new-york-city-council-stop-the-demolition-of-5-pointz

    Here's why it's important:

    This place is an open air art museum for the unique and beautiful art form that is graffiti. G&M realty plans to demolish the building to build two high rise apartement buildings intended for the financially affluent. While they are offereing the 5 pointz group studio space and the opportunity to curate the building, buch of this will be the antithesis of what it was that the graffiti mecca represented to the artists who journeyed there on a pigrimage to see artists' work that have inspired them. The art on dispay at 5 pointz is for the public. It is a place for artists to legally put their art on display, and it is a lifetime goal for many of us. Please, support the cause to save this beautiful open air art museum and prevent it from being turned into apartments, retail space, and a parking garage. You wouldn't tear down the Louvre would you? That's how much this means to graffiti artists around the world.

    You can sign my petition by clicking here.

    Thanks!

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  19. songline

    The thought of Bloomberg is enough to choke anyone. He was as good for this city as the terrorists were in 2011. Unless you are a billionaire like he is he has no use for you, and is moving you as far away as he can. Affordable housing is a lick and a promise.
    I just wonder how he stayed this long without being thrown out.
    The rendering for this place is nice, but we do not know if it is a 20/80 affordable. Meaning only 20% of the building will be affordable. Unless he does 80% market rates, he can’t afford to build it.
    So is it really affordable? Or is it not for everyone.
    I still rather see new buildings come in, new stores, expand the good areas. Right now that area is not really desirable for many. It is no neighborhood, it has no shopping, in short what is LIC really?

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  20. Carol

    Yes, the Wolkoffs have the right to do what they want with their property. But let's not pretend this won't be a huge loss to the character of NYC. 5 Pointz is a special place and it's a shame that, as usual, money triumphs over art and taste. Could those two towers be any more generic and bland?

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  21. Chris

    "I would never build a building that didn't have community support!"

    Then why did you white wash the building the day after a support rally that the very community you claim to respect came out for you lying piece of slime? To block the community's efforts to get landmark status? Oh yeah, some respect you have for the community. Just another rich jerk trying not to show his true colors.

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  22. Char

    LI City has many new developments and has been the place to go when you can’t afford Manhattan. I hope more people will ban together to support normal life style in NYC, STOP the outrageous gouging and displacing people. Seems like the Developers and the government all BS and get over on the people.
    Kudos to those people who stand up to make a difference.

    But LIC is no completion for Manhattan, and it does not have 1% of the conveniences or interest that Manhattan does. It is where to go when you can’t afford Manhattan. They better make it a neighborhood with good eateries, good shops, and all the things that make it a comfortable place. NOT Alienate potential business owners/ residents….
    When I drove through there recently it was cold, not good on stores, shops, eateries, or transportation FROM a passengers view in a car. The area needs to remain affordable.
    IT is no other then "close to the city" NOT some great special anything, I know marketing….it is what it is. But, but, but the people that live there if stabilized will get to see its renaissance as did the upper Upper West Side. People did not leave the UWS because new came in. But people will, and should ban together from allowing the rich to crush the not rich so they can get richer

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  23. J lance

    1. Today five points -thanks to the greedy, apathetic new owners. Their "white wash" is an eyesore. Affordable housing? For who? These two are greedy and selfish. They're not going to help the community. Just like my landlord. He won't upgrade anything and charges a years salary for rent. They're all full of crap.

    Ask yourself this.... If they were going to create affordable housing why spend money to tear it down? I'll tell you why. To build condos on prime realistate and what makes it prime? The artist. If all the artist were to leave these two guys would be screwed. Al we can do us not rent from them.

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  24. star

    The affordable housing is only twenty percent which isn't a big accomplishment . That's the standard affordable housing to get a tax break. Plenty of buildings in Manhattan offer that. Won't there be more community meetings where this can be brought up?

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  25. Chris

    The affordable housing is only 20% of the ADDITIONAL units Wolkoff wants to build, and in reality are only 5.4% of the total # of units...

    That is if it gets built and things like the affordable housing/art areas aren't "value engineered" out of the project when it goes over budget

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Upscale cafe/bar opens at Gantry Park Landing complex

LIC1-465x310

Sept. 28, By Christian Murray

Beans, Grapes and Leaves—an upscale coffee, tea and wine bar—opened Wednesday on the ground floor of the newly developed Gantry Park Landing complex at 2-14 50th Avenue.

The café offers premium coffee and tea–as well as four craft beers on tap and an extensive wine menu with more than 30 reds and 15 whites on offer. It also serves pastries and array of sandwiches.

“Think of a premium version of Starbucks with wine and beer,” said Simon Khan, the owner of the establishment, yesterday. “That is the concept and if it does well we will open other stores.”

Khan, a Sunnyside resident, is not new to the café business. He is a co-owner of Guy & Gallard, a company that has seven coffee /specialty food stores in Manhattan.

Khan said that he has been pleased with the reception Beans, Grapes and Leaves has received since opening. “This is our first weekend and people seem to like it.”

The café is the first of three commercial establishments to go into the Gantry Park Landing Complex.

Urban Market, a 7,500-square gourmet food store that will offer fresh meat and seafood, is expected to open by the end of the year.

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The residential apartments in the building have all been leased. The 199 units went on the market in July, with rents starting at $1,875 for a studio, $2,450 for a one-bedroom and $3,250 for a two-bedroom.

Beans, Grapes and Leaves

Beans, Grapes and Leaves

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Italian group to hold procession along Vernon Blvd. Sunday, as piece of LIC history lives on

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Sept. 25, By Christian Murray

A piece of old-world Italian tradition will be on display on Vernon Boulevard this Sunday.

Members of Societa Sant’ Amato Di Nusco, which is located at 47-39 Vernon Boulevard, will be holding their annual procession through the streets of Hunters Point. The members will carry a life-sized statue of their patron saint, Saint Amato, as they pay homage to him.

Saint Amato is believed to have lived in the town of Nusco, about 40 miles outside of Naples, during the 11th century. He was canonized following his death in September 1093.

The Societa was established in 1903 by immigrants from Nusco, and since then they have paid tribute to their patron saint on the last Sunday of September.

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The club, which operated out of Long Island City church basements and meeting halls in its early years, bought its Vernon Boulevard building in 1959, Stagliano said. He said that the club today has about 150 to 200 members, with about one-quarter of them still living in Long Island City.

Stagliano said that all the members are all from Nusco or have ancestors from there.

The group was founded to help fellow immigrants make their way in America, at a time when there were no social services to help those in need.

Sunday’s procession is the biggest event on the club’s calendar. The event starts at the club at 10 am, with the procession beginning at 11:30 am. It is followed by a church service at St Mary’s at 1 pm.

The procession will incorporate sections of 11th Street, Vernon Boulevard, 47th Road, 47th Avenue, 48th Avenue and Center Boulevard.

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Demolition of 5 Pointz enters a new phase
Source: David Or

Source: David Orecchia (from Citibank building)

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray,

The demolition of 5 Pointz appears to be entering into a new phase as workers get ready to take down the main structure.

The low-rise warehouse complex at the rear of the building has gone and work has begun on demolishing the main area where artists would gather for events.

A small section within the central meeting area has already been destroyed and workers have brought in heavy machinery to start taking down the main structure.

5 Pointz Sept 24A

5 pOINT sEPT 24B

 

 

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Alobar and John Brown Smokehouse win coveted ‘Bib Gourmand’ award

Alobar

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray

The Michelin Guide has just released its 2015 “Bib Gourmand” picks and Alobar and John Brown Smokehouse (10-43 44th Drive) were among the picks for the best value for money.

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The Bib Gourmand restaurant winners are widely considered the best and most affordable restaurants in New York.

For the full list, please click here.

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Van Bramer’s hit-and-run bill is passed by the city council
Van Bramer, Maribel Egipciaco , Melissa Mark Viverito (Source: Bill Alatriste)

Van Bramer, Martha Puruncajas , Melissa Mark Viverito (Source: Bill Alatriste)

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray

The city council passed legislation yesterday that would fine drivers who flee the scene of an accident up to $10,000.

The Council voted 49-0 in favor of the legislation that was introduced by Jimmy Van Bramer following three hit-and-run deaths that have occurred in Western Queens in the past year.

“I am proud to have sponsored Intro 371, the ‘Justice for Hit and Run Victims Act,’” Van Bramer said in a statement. “I was moved to introduce this bill in response to the death of three people who were killed in my district by drivers who fled the scene.”

Last September, Luis Bravo, 19, was killed crossing Broadway in Woodside. Meanwhile, Karen Pheras, 20, was struck and killed around the same time crossing Queens Plaza North. Then in March, Martha Puruncajas, 64, was killed crossing Northern Boulevard in Long Island City.

“They all lost their lives because of the unconscionable actions of reckless drivers who showed no concern for the lives of these three people,” Van Bramer said. “We will never know if one or all of them could have been saved had the drivers done the right thing: stopped their car and called 911.”

All three drivers have yet to be caught.

“It’s something you never get over,” said Bravo’s mother, Maribel Egipciaco, at a recent council hearing.”The pain is unbearable, the pain stays,” she said, adding that she hopes stiffer penalties would prevent future tragedies.

Under the bill, those who leave the scene of an incident without taking action would be subject to pay a civil penalty of up to $500 if property damage stems from the incident; $1,000 to $2,000 if a person is injured; and $2,000 to $10,000 if there is serious injury or death.

Currently there are no “civil” penalties in New York City if someone flees.

Criminal penalties are determined by the state lawmakers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law. The law would take effect ninety days after he signs it.

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Modern Spaces opens second office in Astoria as development boom continues
Astoria location

Astoria location

Sept. 23, By Christian Murray

The real estate market is heating up in Astoria–and LIC-based Modern Spaces is looking to get in on more of the action.

Modern Spaces, which has its flagship office at 47-42 Vernon Boulevard, will be opening its second office in Astoria next month at 34-16 30th Avenue.

The new location will be much more substantial than its first Astoria office, which is in the Ditmars section of the neighborhood  at 29-20 23rd Avenue.

The 30th Avenue office will be 2,000 square feet, with room to house 25 agents. It will also include an outdoor garden space that can be used for events.

Modern Spaces, which was founded in Long Island City in 2008, will have six offices when its second Astoria office opens. It has offices in Williamsburg and Chelsea.

Eric Benaim, founder of Modern Spaces, said: “We are very happy to expand our Astoria reach with this new office, and are proud to be part of this community. The timing is opportune for us, as we have three new projects in Astoria that will be hitting the market early next year.”

Modern Spaces also announced that Greg Kyroglou, an Astoria resident who currently manages the firm’s Ditmars office, will head up the new office.

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First movie at LIC park a big hit
Source: Rob Basch

Source: Rob Basch

Sept. 22, By Christian Murray

More than 200 people attended the first movie screening at Hunters Point South Park on Saturday night.

The film, Julie & Julia, was displayed on a 26 x 24 foot screen, on what was a clear night offering unblemished views of Manhattan.

The Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, which organized the event, selected the movie since a good portion of it was shot in Long Island City. The film contrasts the life of Chef Julia Child with the experiences of Long Island City resident Julie Powell, who wrote a popular blog about cooking all of Child’s recipes from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” within a year.

Julie Powell and Rob Basch

Julie Powell and Rob Basch

Powell, who has seen the film 13 times, had many supporters at the event, particularly her friends from the Murray Park dog run. They were there to “support me and make fun of me,” she said.

Powell spoke before the movie and discussed showcasing Long Island City to the late Nora Ephron, who directed the movie. She also talked about Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon recipe, which she said captured the soul of Child’s French cook book.

“The weather was perfect and a lot of people came with blankets, pillows and picnics,” said Robert Basch, who organized the event with the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy. He said LIC Landing had a pop corn machine going and was selling its regular food.

Basch said he was not sure when the next movie will be screened.“We don’t want our sponsors to pay $2,000 if the weather’s terrible.”

The film was sponsored by real estate firm Nest Seekers International.

For future events, click on Hunters Point Parks Conservancy Facebook page.

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No. 7 train to be closed from Times Square to 74th Street this weekend

7subway1Sept. 19, By Michael Florio

Getting around New York City is going to be a lot tougher for many Long Island City residents this weekend.

Number 7 train service between Times Square-42nd Street and 74th Street/Roosevelt Ave will be suspended from 2 am Saturday through 4:30 am Monday, according to the MTA.

In lieu of the closures, the MTA will be providing two free shuttle services this weekend. One will run from Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave to Queensboro Plaza, stopping at Hunters Point Ave, 45th Road/Court House Square, and Queens Plaza.

The other will run between Queensboro Plaza and 74th Street/Broadway, stopping at 33rd Street, 40th Street, 46th Street, 52nd Street, 61st Street/Woodside, and 69th Street.

The service disruptions are due to ongoing construction taking place along the 7 line and are expected to continue until 2017.

 

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