Long Island City Post

Long Island City NY news

Owner of 5 Pointz: ‘I whitewashed the building to stop the torture’

walls 003

Nov. 19, By Christian Murray

The owner of the iconic 5 Pointz building sent in a crew of painters in the cover of darkness to whitewash the building in the early hours this morning.

The artists discovered that their art was gone shortly after dawn, tweeting: “5 pointz is gone building was painted overnight…”

A paint crew, along with police protection, came around 1 a.m. and finished around 7 a.m.

Jerry Wolkoff, the owner of the 5 Pointz building, said he sent in painters to bring the battle with the artists to an end.

“I whitewashed the building to stop the torture,” Wolkoff said. “They [the artists] had to take their medicine,” he said, adding that “they will be upset with me for a day or two … and then everyone will be over it.”

Wolkoff said it would have been extremely difficult to demolish the building piece by piece, art work by artwork.  “If I was able to implode the building I would have,” he said. “This way it is now done.”

He said he did it in the early hours of the morning to avoid conflict. “The last thing I wanted was people getting arrested.”

However, the artists viewed Wolkoff’s action to paint the building as underhanded and as a historic loss.  “Biggest art crime committed by Jerry Wolkoff… 5 Pointz Genocide,” the group wrote on twitter.

The paint over occurred as the 5 Pointz leaders were starting to launch a bid to landmark the building. At a rally held at the building on Saturday, they were handing out landmark petition forms.

Wolkoff claimed that the artists would never have been able to landmark the building. “My building is a piece of crap with no architectural significance,” he said, and the artwork kept changing.

The building is expected to be replaced by two residential towers– one 41 stories and the other 47 stories tall. The developer’s plan was approved by the New York City Council.

Marie Cecile Flaguel, who represents the artists, stood outside the 5 Pointz building this morning and was in tears. She did not want to comment.

Wolkoff said that claims that he was an art criminal were ridiculous. “If I were an art murderer I wouldn’t have allowed them to paint all these years.”

He said that he loved the art that they do. “It made me cry when I saw them painting over it,” he said.

A peaceful candlelight vigil will be held for 5Pointz  at 5 p.m. this evening.

5 Pointz painted white, artwork gone


Nov. 19, By Christian Murray,

The owner of the iconic 5 Pointz building painted over the artwork last night.

The artists discovered that their art was gone this morning, tweeting: “5 pointz is gone building was painted overnight…”

A paint crew, along with police protection, came around 1 a.m. and finished around 7 a.m., according to the artists.

The building, which is owned by developer Jerry Wolkoff and his son David, is expected to be replaced by two residential towers– one 41 stories and the other 47 stories tall.

Marie Cecile Flaguel, who represents the artists, stood outside the 5 Pointz building this morning and was in tears. She did not want to comment.

Meanwhile, Jerry Wolkoff was not available for comment.

A peaceful candlelight vigil will be held for 5Pointz  at 5 p.m. this evening.


LIC Restaurants to host a food-tasting crawl

Starting point for tasting

Starting point for tasting

Nov. 18, By Christian Murray

The Long Island City Restaurant Association, which formed just weeks ago, is already organizing its first event.

The group is hosting a food tasting, called “Leftovers for Leftovers,” which will take place the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The event is partly inspired by the enormously successful Taste of LIC, which draws more than 50 restaurants and about 1,000 people each summer.

With “Leftovers for Leftovers,” eight restaurants will be preparing food and drink samplers.  Each restaurant is expected to offer a signature dish.

The timing of the event is a win-win for restaurant owners and customers. “It’s a time when there is not a lot going on…and when nobody wants to cook,” said Rebecca Trent, the owner of the Creek and the Cave, who is organizing the event.

The aim is for attendees to spend an hour at each restaurant. Trent said the tasting will start at 4 pm and go from place to place in the following order: Masso, Sage, Manducatis Rustica, Alobar, Woodbines, Creek and the Cave, Wine Bar and Alewife.

The cost is $8 per venue. There is no all-day pass at this point.

While each venue serves alcohol, Trent does not want the event to turn into a pub crawl. “This is about quality food…not a frat-boy bar crawl.”

“I’m really excited about the concept,” Trent said. She said she didn’t know what the turnout would be. “I guess it will be trial by fire.”


Event: Left overs for Leftovers

Date: Nov 30

Time: 4 pm

Starts at Masso, located at 47-25 Vernon Blvd.

5 Pointz leaders say fight is not over, talk about forming human chain

Nov. 18, By Christian Murray

Hundreds of 5 Pointz fans turned out Saturday afternoon at the graffiti Mecca to hear their leaders tell them that the fight to save the building is not over.

The warehouse, owned by developers Jerry and David Wolkoff, is likely to be demolished in the New Year, to make way for two high-rise residential towers. However, supporters of the building remained defiant and urged fans to remain optimistic.

“I would like people to stop saying they are going to tear down this building,” said Angel Del Villar. “I don’t feel as though this is positive or realistic.”

The 5 Pointz curator Jonathan Cohen, aka Meres One, took a swipe at the media for printing that the building will be demolished and that the artists have lost their fight.

Many of these reports came out last week after Federal Court Judge Frederic Block denied the artists a preliminary injunction, which would have stopped the Wolkoffs from demolishing the building while a lengthy legal fight took place.

“I will let you know when it is over…and it is not over,” Cohen said. “We are still trying to Landmark this building, and there will be 15,000 landmark forms going in Monday.”

NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission forms were passed around and filled out by most of those in attendance.

Meanwhile, the group is also considering appealing Judge Block’s decision.

Jerry Wolkoff, the owner of the building, said prior to the Saturday’s rally that ‘the artists were wasting their time” and he didn’t know what they hoped to accomplish. “They are just hurting themselves,” he said. Other building owners who see how this has played out will be wary of allowing them to paint on their properties, he added.

At the rally, Angel Del Villar said he was prepared to go to extreme lengths if the system didn’t help the artists in saving the building—even calling for a human chain.

“We have enough people to go around this block,” he said. “We can all be handcuffed to one another. We are willing to get our arms cut off for 5 Pointz.”

Artisanal food vendors move into Falchi Building’s ‘Food Box’

Nov. 15, By Christian Murray

The first steps toward creating a Long Island City food market near Queens Boulevard took place last Monday.

Four independent artisanal food makers moved into the ground floor of the Falchi Building on 47th Ave. near LaGuardia Community College.

The vendors—some participants in the LIC Flea– were invited to join by Jamestown Properties, which bought the building last year and has plans to create a food market. Jamestown is best known among foodies for operating the Chelsea Market.

Jamestown started the market with the opening of the “Food Box at Falchi” on Monday, which is located on the ground floor, near the main lobby to the building.

So far, Peruvian, Jamaican, Thai and Texas-baked goods are for sale. A fifth vendor is expected to come next week.

Meanwhile, construction workers are still creating space for a cheese vendor, called Artisanal Premium Cheese, which is known for buying and selling curds from all over the world.

The Food Box at Falchi is open Monday through Friday, 6:30am until 5 pm. It is not open on weekends.

“We were part of the LICFlea and got correspondence about this market from Jamestown,” said David Wisdom, who opened his ‘Real Caribbean Food’ kiosk on Monday, which sells jerk chicken, beef patties, juices and more.

He said that Jamestown will be painting the “Food Box” , and there will be a lot of branding. If all goes well, Jamestown has plans to grow the market.

The owner of Jamestown, however, told the Queens Chronicle earlier this month that he does not plan to create a Long Island City version of Chelsea Market. That market has more than thirty-five vendors purveying everything from nuts, coffee and cheese.

Jessey Nahmias, who runs a Peruvian kiosk called Jessey’s Pastries, said business was slow on Monday when the Food Box opened. However, people are starting to learn we are here. Furthermore, “there are not a lot of lunch choices around the area,” she said, expressing confidence that the concept will succeed.

Nahmias sells empanadas and Alfajores, a Peruvian-style cookie.

Meanwhile, Eric Henshaw, who operates Khao Man Gai NY with his wife Emorn, said he decided to open a kiosk here, since “Jamestown Properties is the operator, Long Island City is the location and it’s a chance to share our food.”

Henshaw offers Khao Man Gai, noodle soup and Thai teas.

The owner of the fourth vendor—The Kolache Co–was not available for comment. However, a worker said that the owner plans to bring Texas-style pastries to the North East.

ups advertising sunnyside post-1

Upscale cafe to open at Hunters Point South Park

Concession area

Concession area at Hunters Point South Park

Nov. 14, By Christian Murray

The owners of a popular Long Island City cafe will be opening a waterfront concession in Hunters Point South Park in January.

The new establishment will be called ‘LIC Landing by Coffeed’ and will be operated by the same eco-friendly team that owns Coffeed at 37-18 Northern Blvd.

Frank Raffaele, the chief executive of Coffeed , said the concession will be located next to the ferry terminal. It will consist of a kiosk, the space under the canopy and an adjacent deck area.

Raffaele said the café will be open 365-days of the year, from 6:30 am through 10 pm. He said he plans to cater to the breakfast and lunch crowd—as well as serve wine, beer, coffee, tea and a range of food types.

There will be a big emphasis on selling locally-grown produce, he said. For instance, some of the items will come from Brooklyn Grange, a roof-top farm located out of the same building where his existing café is.

“The park is a big draw and this [concession] will add a little extra to its attraction,” Raffaele said. “It is a high-end café concept…at a modest price.”

Raffaele said that there will be 100 seats and that there will be some waiter service under the canopy. However, most customers will buy their items directly from the kiosk.

Raffaele doesn’t seem to mind that he is opening in the chilly month of January. “Hey, we sell coffee,” he said, as he shrugged his shoulders.

Building Dept. closes Cliffs at LIC, leaves owner hanging

Mike Wolfert

Mike Wolfert

Nov. 13, By Christian Murray

It’s almost enough to push him over the edge.

The owner of the Cliffs at LIC, a gigantic indoor rock-climbing center located on 44th Drive, was ordered by the Department of Buildings to close down his premises on October 25 after claiming that he did not have a valid certificate of occupancy.

Since then, the climbing facility has remained closed and is unlikely to reopen until December.

Mike Wolfert, who owns the Cliffs at LIC, opened the highly-publicized center on Oct. 5, just three weeks prior to it being shut.

Wolfert found it tough opening the facility in the first place.  He had planned to open in May but complications with the building department—including his arrest for allegedly bribing a building inspector– delayed the opening.

However, when he did open, most of those thorny problems seemed behind him. On opening day, 1,000 people showed up to climb the 60-foot high walls and enjoy the music and giveaways.  Several climbers were clipping ropes to the walls and were shimmying up and down the cliff faces.

Wolfert’s recent troubles began, however, when an anonymous complaint was filed on Oct. 23 that alleged The Cliffs was violating city zoning laws. While that complaint was unfounded and dismissed, it led to a building inspector coming to the facility.

The building inspector reported that The Cliffs did not have a valid certificate of occupancy.

The Buildings Dept. now wants a third party structural engineer to issue an opinion on the premises. That report will also review the work conducted by Wolfert’s engineers.  Once that is complete, the Building Dept. will send an inspector to sign off on it.

“That should take a couple more weeks,” Wolfert said.  However, “I doubt we will be open before December.”

Wolfert said that the facility’s members with be credited for days that the Cliffs is closed.

Judge deals blow to artists, as struggle to save building dims

Source: George Burles

Source: George Burles

Nov. 12, By Christian Murray

The 5 Pointz artists were dealt a severe blow today when a Federal Court Judge ruled against them, virtually condemning the building to the wrecking ball.

Judge Frederic Block denied the artists a preliminary injunction, which would have stopped G&M Realty from demolishing the building while a lengthy legal fight took place. A temporary restraining order, which was issued twice in October dealing with the same case, was lifted.

The plaintiffs claimed that their street art should be protected by the Visual Artists Rights Act—and that if the owner demolished the building he would violate that Act. While sympathetic, the judge denied the artists’ motion.

G&M Realty is now free to demolish the building once the remaining tenants leave. Jonathan Cohen, the curator of 5 Pointz, is there until the end of the month and the remaining tenants expected to be gone by the end of December.

The last throw of the dice for the artists is to appeal Block’s decision to the Second Circuit. However, Block did not hand down his full written decision today, which would be the basis of the appeal. That is likely to come within the week.

The artists would need to get an Appeals Court Judge to grant them a stay—which would stop demolition until the case was fully litigated.

While the artists can continue with their lawsuit without a stay or a preliminary injunction, the building is likely to come crashing down while the matter is being decided in court. The artists would get monetary damages if they prevailed—but the building would be gone.

Wine & beer bar set to open in Dutch Kills

The Baroness

The Baroness

Nov. 12, By Christian Murray

A new wine & craft beer bar–tucked inside a 1920s Dutch Kills building– is expected to open next week.

The bar, called The Baroness, is located across the street from the Crescent Club rental complex– at 41-26 Crescent Street. It will offer wine and craft beer—as well as cheese & charcuterie from around the globe.

“We are ready to open,” said Kyle Radzyminski, who owns the bar with his wife. “We are just waiting for our liquor license…which is supposed to come this week.”

Radzyminski said that he and his wife—Melanie Lemieux– live next door to the bar and said that the area was in need of a local hangout. “It is a long walk to Jackson Avenue,” he said, as well as other locations.

The couple, who already own a bar in the East Village, have lived in Long Island City for the past three years and plan to stay in the neighborhood long term.

The bar will not play Top 40 music. Instead, Radzyminski said, “you’re more likely to hear Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Richard Cheese.”




M. Wells to open for friends tonight, public on Thursday

Getting ready for opening

Getting ready for opening

Nov. 12, By Christian Murray

M. Wells, the acclaimed Long Island City restaurant that closed in the summer of 2011, will be opening its steakhouse this evening.

Sarah Obraitis, who owns the restaurant with her husband Hugue Dufour, said that the restaurant will be open to friends and associates tonight and Wednesday. It will be open to the general public from Thursday and beyond.

The restaurant, called M. Wells Steakhouse, is located out of a former auto body repair shop at 43-15 Crescent Street. It is directly across the street from Rockrose’s Linc LIC residential building.

Dufour told LICPOST recently that the restaurant would be a “meat temple” that would serve steaks and “European-style” cuts of meat.

The restaurant seats 70 people—excluding a workshop area where Dufour is building a catamaran. However, the catamaran is a work in progress and will not be completed by the time the restaurant opens.

The focus, nevertheless, will be on meat and poultry. “It won’t be pretentious,” Dufour, the Canadian native, said.

M. Wells has been operating a dinette out of a MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Ave.) since the fall of 2012. The dinette pays homage to the building’s former identity as a schoolhouse with communal tables.

However, the dinette’s hours are limited—open Thursday-Monday from 12- 6 pm.

“It’s a small operation and we need to make a living,”  Dufour said. “It’s hard to live when all you can provide is lunch (given the limited hours).”

Dufour has no plans to close the dinette when he opens the restaurant.

M. Wells built a huge following in Long Island City when it operated a tin-can diner at 21-17 49th Avenue.

Last minute fixes before opening

Last minute fixes before opening

Battle for 5 Pointz far from over, artists claim

Photo: By George Burles

Photo: By George Burles

Nov. 11, By Christian Murray

The battle to save the 5 Pointz graffiti Mecca is not over, according to the artists.

These fighting words come just days after a federal court judge said he was doubtful that a lawsuit filed by the 5 Pointz artists to save the building would prevent the building from being demolished.

Gerry Wolkoff, the owner of the property, plans to bulldoze the graffiti icon by the end of the year and start developing two residential towers.

The lawsuit filed by the artists, which is a long-shot, aims to protect their work by saving the building. The artists are in court seeking a preliminary injunction as they attempt to take the case to trial.

However, they were dealt a blow on Friday when Federal Judge Frederic Block, who is presiding over the case, said during the hearing: “I can’t grant the injunction.”

However, Judge Block won’t be handing down his decision until Tuesday. And the attorney for the artists said that the media has “jumped the gun” by reporting the case is lost.

“The judge has not even ruled on the case,” said Jeannine Chanes, the attorney for the artists.  Yet, she said, the media makes it sound as though the bulldozers have already come out.

Chanes said the artwork should be protected by the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), since it is was completed by highly acclaimed artists, and with the permission of Wolkoff. Therefore, she said, the artwork cannot be altered without each artist’s consent.

Chanes claims that the judge’s comments expressing doubt about the injunction was based on his belief as to whether the building could be save under the obscure VARA statute.

However, she said that for a preliminary injunction to be granted, the judge must make his ruling based on the case meeting one of two main tests.

It must either have a “substantial likelihood of success on the merits” or it must “sufficiently raise serious questions going to the merits, making them a fair ground for litigation.”

Chanes claims that the artists’ case meets the “serious questions” test. Therefore, despite Block’s statement, she remains optimistic.

Marie Cecile Flaguel, who represents the artists, said that Block was doubtful of the VARA suit from the beginning. From the get-go, he said, “there is nothing he could do—yet he gave us two temporary restraining orders and a hearing.”

Should the artists lose, legal experts claim that the ruling would most likely be appealed to the Second Circuit, which would further delay demolition.  The artists would also argue that the case meets the “serious questions” test.

However, Chanes would not comment as to whether this was an option—should the artists lose.

Judge Block, during last week’s testimony, did indicate on many occasions that the artists’ case looked weak.

“I love the work and it’s going to tear my heart out to see it torn down, but as a judge I have to apply the law,” Block said.

Block suggested he might have authority to issue a stay of the demolition if there was an application for landmark status pending before the city Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission could not be reached for comment since it was closed in observance of Veterans Day. However, the Daily News reported that an application had been filed earlier this year and was rejected.

Flaguel argued that the landmarks commission often rejects applications before granting a positive ruling. She said that the artists would file another application this week. She said the initial ruling by landmarks came shortly after Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said he backed G&M’s proposal and the city planning commission had approved it.

She said the group’s Landmarks Preservation Commission application would now be backed up by the facts determined in the VARA case, which would add to its heft.

The judge also suggested that the artists get in touch with the new administration to see if they would be willing to protect the building.

However, without a preliminary injunction, Wolkoff could proceed with the demolition while the artists scramble to get the help of city hall.

Gerry Wolkoff could not be reached for comment.

Guerilla farmers will soon be allowed to put down roots in LIC


Smiling Hogshead Ranch

Nov. 9, By Christian Murray,

A group of guerrilla farmers who illegally started a garden on an abandoned Long Island City lot will soon get the recognition they have long sought.

The group put down a garden on an industrial site, located on the corner of Skillman Avenue and Pearson Place, nearly 3 years ago.  They call their plot the Smiling Hogshead Ranch.

“It’s over an acre in size with largely unused railroad tracks crisscrossing through it,” Gil Lopez, a co-founder, said. Lopez said that the group rode their bikes around the area at the time—and used computers—to find the site.

The land, however, belonged to the MTA—despite the fact that there weren’t any signs saying ‘No Trespassing’ or ‘Keep Out.’

However, Lopez’ group has been lucky. It’s working with the MTA to structure a deal where it will be able to use the land in return for a small fee.

With recognition looming, the group is starting to put forward some lofty plans. It seeks non-profit status to raise funds; offer job-training programs for prospective gardeners; and work with schools to introduce children to horticulture.

Lopez said the group has had the soil tested at the industrial lot and that its members eat the produce—which include tomatoes, eggplant and fruit. He said that they have used mushrooms to clean the soil through a process call mycoremediation

The group has a large compost pile and is urging the public to drop off leaves, fruits, eggshells and other table scraps between noon and 4pm on Sundays.

Location of farm

Location of garden