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’.
David Wolcoff, along with representatives from the G&M Reality, publicly outlined their plan, which includes building two residential high rises that could contain
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.
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.
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.
There’s still time to get involved.
SAVE 5 POINTZ!