June 7, 2013 By Christian Murray
Long Island City, Queens: The plan to demolish 5 Pointz and replace it with 1,000 apartments was unanimously rejected by Community Board 2 Tuesday night.
The vote was focused solely on the size of the proposed building—not on whether the historic graffiti icon would be demolished. The developer, David Wolkoff, is free to knock it down at any time. Instead, the vote was on whether to grant him a special permit that would allow him to build 1,000 units–370 more than permitted ‘as of right’ by present zoning.
The board slammed his plan, citing “the project’s excessive size and unsatisfactory design.” Furthermore, it noted that the Long Island City community did not receive a big enough benefit for the increased density.
“Community board 2 of Queens rejects and opposes the application,” said Stephen Cooper, the board’s first vice-chairperson, adding that the plan would come at great cost to the local residents, businesses and commuters. He said it would lead to the overcrowding of subways and streets, the ouster of artists and an increase in rental rates throughout the Court Square/Long Island City district.
The board’s vote is advisory, and the project next moves on to Borough President Helen Marshall before landing at the City Planning Commission. The commission has the option to nix the application, but otherwise it will move on to the City Council for a vote.
Wolkoff’s proposal calls for two towers–one would be 47 stories high and the other 41 stories. The base of the two buildings would include retail shops and a 250-car parking garage.
As part of Wolkoff’s plan to get the permit, he is willing to provide about 30,000 sqf. in public space—well over the 20,000 sqf. that is required. He also plans to create five 400sqf art studios—which he is not required to do.
But the community board was not impressed.
Lisa Deller, the chairwoman of Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee, said the community would be better served by the developer providing benefits such as affordable housing. However, “the developer has not expressed any interest or made any commitment to provide affordable housing with this complex,” she said.
Furthermore, Deller said, “the vast majority of open space will be located either adjacent to or below the elevated #7 subway line… and will not be a peaceful oasis as portrayed in the renderings but a noisy open area.”
The 5 artist studios were deemed a “token gesture” and insufficient. Deller said that 15,000 sqf. of low cost artist space would be more fitting.
Wolkoff said he was disappointed by the decision, since “we had worked closely with city planning” on it. “We provided a lot of open space and it’s a beautiful building,” he said. “The building is suitable for the area, since it [Court Square] is going through a transition.”