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Long Island City artists express anger over 5 Pointz development

Photo: LIC Post

May 23, 2013 By Christian Murray

The developer who seeks to demolish the 5 Pointz graffiti mecca and construct two residential towers faced an unfriendly crowd at a public hearing held at MoMA PS 1 last night.

David Wolkoff, the developer, and his team of consultants, put together a PowerPoint presentation and showcased their two modern towers. One tower would be 47 stories high and the other 41 stories.  The developer seeks to build 1,000 apartments, 50,000 sqf. of retail space, 250 parking spaces and 5 art studios.

However, most of the 200 attendees didn’t seem to pay much attention to the developer’s plans. Their focus was on the demolition of the existing building—and the lost art.

“This proposal would extinguish a bright light in Long Island City,” said Jerry Rotondi, a Queens resident and former trustee with the Queens Historical Society.

Rotondi then looked Wolkoff in the eye and said: “You have the gall to propose a tasteless cornball glitzy box” to replace this building.

However, Wolkoff told the audience that the building had only become an art symbol due to the generosity of his family for allowing the artists to display their work in the first place. He said his family gave the artists the go-ahead to paint their works as long as their graffiti wasn’t politically incendiary or pornographic.

Wolkoff said the development represents a “transition from the past and present — into the future,” adding that provision has been made for art walls around the building and several art studios in the base of the building.

However, Marie Cecile Flageul, who has lived in LIC for the past 3 years, didn’t buy into Wolkoff’s argument.

“Let’s call a cat a cat,” Flageul said. “Mr. Wolkoff, you’re in real estate. You own a building that you purchased in 1976… and it is time for you to make money and cash in. We get that…Stop talking about artist galleries and accommodating people because we know it’s not going to happen.”

Flageul then presented the developer and the community board with a petition, signed by 15,830 people opposed to the project.

In the windows outside the lobby of MOMA PS1, attendees held signs: “For the good of LIC? Or the …Wealth of Wolkoff??”

There was only one speaker who spoke in Wolkoff’s favor.

Kim Luttrell, an artist who had a studio in the 5 Pointz building, said: “We all have known for years that the building was going to come down. At least David [Wolkoff] is trying to give us something, a little something [through the art studios]. Most developers won’t even do that.”

At the end of the evening, Luttrell was approached by two large men, who yelled: “He paid you off, he paid you off.” Joe Conley, chairman of Community Board 2, stepped in to calm the situation down.

The hearing represented the first step in what’s called the uniform land use review process. The developer needs to get the plan approved by a number of layers of government before it can proceed. Community Board 2 is expected to vote on the application on June 6 at its next monthly meeting.

If all goes to plan, the developer would demolish 5 Pointz by the end of the year and start construction in the first quarter of 2014.

However, several hard core artists said they will fight the new development to the bitter end.

“This is our building and they can’t take it away without our permission,” said Angel Del Villar, a graffiti artist.

If the wrecking ball is called out, “I will be there,” Del Villar said. “I hope everyone is there. And we will make a [human] chain and another chain around the building and there will be reinforcements sent from all over the world.”

“5 Pointz deserves respect and they don’t respect us,” he said.

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Marie, thank you! I hope your signatures didn’t end up in the trash can–I think it is wonderful all of the work you put into collecting those as a means for showing the community reaction to the project.


rachel, so refreshing to read you … and yes just because he has the right doesn t make it right …. and yes the building is in the shape it is because he failed to maintain it … yet Mr Conley has already given him the green light .. all concerns where elluded at the hearing and it was a joke. Why are they rushing to vote on this … as early as June 6th ..
I wonder where my 15 830 signatures ended up … more than likely in the trash can .


I also want to point out , that Mr Wolkoff generated impressive revenue when Now you see me , shot for 6 nights and rented the space for over 3 month , Summit entertainement paid a large sum of money to the building owner , and Louis letterier picked the building because of the graffiti , movie is coming out nationwide on the 31st, Rescue me shot an eposide there as well , crane street side was set on fire , so you think you can danse belgium , conard british artist recorded his video for Vegas Girl on the roof top last summer , and many more editorial shots for Elle, Vogue , Conde nast for years … the art has generated nice income for the owners. Up till 2009 all artists were paying rent , they got ask to leave following the collapse of the stairtcase which could have been prevented if the building had been properly maintened .
Let s get it straigh , his generosity , paid off .


@ LIC dude : Angel del Villar , is not a jobless looser … do your homework, recorded artist with Sony , Homeboysandman also writes periodically for the New York times.
But your comment is very indicative of the racism , and profiling attached to 5 Pointz. It s sad really that members of foreign government, amabssadors come and are appreciative of the cultural effort , when the local resident are point blank racists. I feels like we are back in the 60 s …


I believe art is important to reserve, so please get like $5 billions to purchase the land and property! But who will pay this? Those artists? Tax payers? No one! Now you know who should shut up!!!


Maybe the artists can deconstruct and reconstruct 5pointz on some land they decide to purchase… come on artists be creative – use this pain.


“That building is a huge blight on the community anyway. People leaving Manhattan coming into Queens think we live in “the hood” because of the graffiti on that building.”

I invited a bunch of Manhattan friends to 5 Pointz last week and they thought it was a neighborhood gem and if the interior of the building were condos, they’d all purchase there. You are LIVING in artwork – how cool is that?

I’ve never met someone who thinks it is low class or “ghetto”.

And those luxury condos are BORING. I’m happy for the new people coming to LIC, but the area’s appeal is going down the drown.


I love 5Pointz and would hate to see it disappear, but at the end of the day this is private property and the owner has the right to do what ever is “as of right” with it. The right to own property is key to our democracy and it should be respected even if the public disagrees with the property owner.

Hopefully what the owner is angling for is that he be allowed to build the extra sqft he is requesting and in exchange he will need to provide more public space, which can house 5Pointz. This is all part of the negotiations, land owner offers as least as possible knowing that eventually they will need to give up more to get what they want.


“That building is a huge blight on the community anyway. People leaving Manhattan coming into Queens think we live in “the hood” because of the graffiti on that building.”

Oh noes! I cannot sleep at night knowing that people visting from that other borough may misperceive the socioeconomic status of our neighborhood’s residents!

If it’s such a “blight,” why are there thousands of residents and artists clamoring to save it? Perhaps you don’t know what that word means?


This reminds me of MoMA’s (abandoned) plan to demolish the The Museum of American Folk Art on W. 53rd St in order to build a huge tower. 5Pointz is a unique cultural artifact – and should be accommodated/re-purposed. The proposed design is undistinguished – incorporating elements of 5Pointz into a new design would have been a brilliant way of acknowledging the area’s industrial and cultural roots.

LIC Dude

Of course Angel Del Villar and friends will form a human chain to save it. They don’t have real jobs which is why they’re artists to begin with- so they can mooch off the rest of us.

Buy the land or something similar Mr. Villar and do your so-called ‘art’ on that dummy.

Michael Kilpatrick

These artist do not own the property!! Get over it!! That building is a huge blight on the community anyway. People leaving Manhattan coming into Queens think we live in “the hood” because of the graffiti on that building. Time to move on people!


OMG this is unreal. These people were given a temporary gift for all these years and now they believe they have the right to take ownership.

This is outrageous. CB2 should never have allowed this to happen. This meeting should never have taken place. If the owners are building in accordance with NYC laws, that should be sufficient. They have contributed to the arts more than most. It is their property and they are entitled to reclaim it. The free ride is over.

I think this Community Board needs to step away from all this nonsense because it seems they are only encouraging fights that should not be happening in the first place.


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