It could truly be the end for the iconic 5 Pointz graffiti mecca in Long Island City: the graffiti-caked artist space may soon be bulldozed and resurrected as high-rises, restaurants and retail stores.
The building's owner, developer Jerry Wolkoff, told the News that he met recently with city planning officials to discuss replacing it with two high-rise residential towers and up to 1,300 rental units. He also said his plans include a mix of shops and restaurants, a supermarket, an open-air concourse between the towers and a park, as well as a studio space for artists. Because Wolkoff's plans require the taller of the two high-rises to rise above 40 stories, it will require a special permit and likely a zoning change, which means the changes must be approved by the city's zoning and land-use review process. He expects to submit a formal proposal to the city in the next two weeks.
Back in 2009, jewelry designer Nicole Gagne was seriously injured during an external stairway collapse, which led to all the artists being forced to vacate the space. Wolkoff argues that his $300 million project would revitalize the area and provide for thousands of construction jobs: "It is important for Long Island City, and it is important for Queens," he said. But artists are dismayed by the plans: "If it were to happen, it would be no different than tearing down the MOMA or the Guggenheim. It is not just any other building with graffiti on it. It is the epicenter for graffiti artists from all over the world," said Jonathan Cohen, the founder of the 5Pointz collective.