You Can Help Save a Cultural Landmark: Part Three
This past Wednesday, residents, community activists artists And supporters of 5 Pointz packed PS1 as the first of a series of community board meetings were held to effectively determine the fate of the ‘institute of higher burning’.
The Building Plan
David Wolcoff, along with representatives from the G&M Reality, publicly outlined their plan, which includes building two residential high rises that could contain
- over 1,000 new units plus two stories dedicated to retail space;
- a 30,000 square foot public park and and a 250-car parking garage.
- five art studios (with a ‘nominal rent’ fee), art walls, and a 50 by 200 foot mural would be included for artists to create and present their work
- building amenities would include a full gym complete with a swimming pool, an indoor rock climbing wall, a simulated golf course, spaces to park bikes, and barbecue areas.
Since this plan exceeds what was originally presented back in 2012, an extensive public review process must be held over the next several months before the area can receive re-zoning approval.
The Reaction From Local Residents
Residents were quick to pick apart the plan and were unhappy that that the site of the public park would be in the heart of the noisiest section of the area (near the always active 7 train); the building amenities – plus the quick access to mass transit – would discourage new residents from being active in the community, and the new garage does not address the heart of the parking problem in the area: high costs. Residents also questioned the absence of lower-middle income housing and if the ‘market value’ apartment fees (high rents) would discourage prospective tenants from moving there (as its happening now in the even more attractive Vernon-Jackson Ave area of Queens). There were also concerns that the Wolcoff family will turn around and sell the property once the re-zoning is approved.
Things got tense when the Wolcoffs shaky real estate history entered the conversation (including numerous building code violations and the failed multibillion dollar Heartland Town Center project). Many residents also questioned the developers “strong communal ties” to the neighborhood. This Wall Street Journal profile of his wife Stephanie - which profiles their 9 million dollar Park Avenue apartment – was another sore spot for the neighbors.
The Reaction of the Artists
Whereas residents were skeptical and cautious, the artists in attendance voiced anger and frustration. One artist vowed to lead a human chain around the building to prevent its destruction. Another lamented that this development will destroy one of Long Island City’s best features, and pointed out that more people visit 5 Pointz than PS1. One artist, who also teaches high school art told the story of how his students fell in love with 5 Pointz when he took them there on a field trip. All of them talked about how 5 Pointz has grown beyond New York City: 5 Pointz chapters are popping up in several countries and many people come to Long Island City just to see the site up close.
The most emotional pleas came from the two people closest to 5 Pointz: Spokeswoman Marie Flageul presented a petition with over 16,000 names and passionately advocated for keeping 5 Pointz as is. Jonathan ‘Meres’ Cohen, founder and curator for 5 Pointz, was more careful with his comments. He thanked the Wolcoffs for allowing him and the artists to turn the site into a ‘graffiti mecca’, but added ’my only regret is that the same people who allowed me, unknowingly, to create such a cultural gem don’t see it the way I do.’
The good news for 5 Pointz supporters is that the majority of the residents in attendance are against the plan. At one point, a LIC resident said ‘I don’t like 5 Pointz, but this is the most ill-conceived plan I’ve ever heard!’ The bad news is that even if the re-zoning plan fails, the Wolcoffs can go back to their original plan: tear down 5 Pointz at year’s end and build a single tower with no public park.
What Can You Do To Help Save 5 Pointz
There’s still time to get involved.
- Attend a meeting: The next community board hearing on the issue will be on Thursday, June 6th at Sunnyside Community Services – 43-31 39th Street in Sunnyside, NY. Come out, get information, make your feelings known and on the record.
- Fill out a form: It’s easy! The campaign to have 5 Pointz designated as a New York City landmark continues. The goal is to present over half a million requests to The Landmark Preservation Commission for consideration. Here’s how you can help: Go to the website and print out the form completely and RESPECTFULLY (The address of 5 Pointz is 45-46 Davis St, Long Island City, NY 11101.) Send in the form to the address provided.
- Visit 5 Pointz: check out the always evolving art that light up the area. It’s open on weekends from noon to 7pm. You can go to www.5ptz.com for directions and additional info. These photos don’t do the place justice – you have to be there to experience it.
SAVE 5 POINTZ!