Alas, the 5 Pointz potential demolition saga looks like it's finally nearing its unhappy conclusion. This week, David Wolkoff, whose family owns the Long Island City graffiti mecca, announced plans at a Community Board 2 meeting to knock the warehouse down by September 2013 and replace it with two high-rise towers filled with pricey residential rental-units.
5 Pointz's future has been hanging in the balance since 2009, when an outdoor stairwell collapsed and seriously injured one of the many artists who lived and worked in the warehouse space. The other residents were forced to vacate shortly thereafter, and last year the Wolkoff family began discussing plans for the the building's demolition and subsequent high-rise replacement with city officials. Artists and other community members petitioned rallied for its rescue, and for a while it looked like the Wolkoffs' bulldoze dreams were put to rest. But now it seems that 5 Pointz's fate is now sealed, and its neighborhood will be taking one more step towards its inevitable rebirth as Long Island CondoCity.
"I think it's sad—Five Pointz was the best place to see traditional New York City graffiti for the last ten years," our in-house street art enthusiast Jake Dobkin said of the announcement. "You could see a lot of different styles all in one place—letter pieces, wildstyle, big burners. After it closes, that stuff will probably migrate to a bunch of lesser spots: Phun Factory at the Williamsburg/Greenpoint border, around the Morgan Street stop on the L, and in Hunts Point in the Bronx. But it'll be a real loss to the NYC graffiti scene."
David Wolkoff still needs to undergo a seven month approval process to get development plans certified and reviewed by the Department of City Planning, the community board and the borough president, as well as to apply for permits that would allow him to work on such a large-scale project, but construction is expected to go underway next fall.
Wolkoff did say that the new buildings—which, according to Wolkoff's initial plans, are set to feature a mixture of one-bedroom apartments, studios, two-bedroom and loft-style apartments—would offer a few artist studios and include walls for graffiti artists to display their work. Because, after all, nothing makes for a better replacement for our city's graffiti mecca than a few walls in a condo lobby.