ART: Writing on the Wall for 5Pointz Following NYC Council Vote
SAVING 5 POINTZ: THE INSTITUTE OF HIGHER BURNING
I saw this coming, yet held out hope. New York City Council members struck a deal with developers this week, officially signaling the demise of 5Pointz Art Aerosol Center. Despite its cultural relevance and a grassroots show of support, the expansive graffiti mecca in Queens didn’t stand a chance in this modern-day David and Goliath tale.
“They were going to knock this building down no matter what we did today,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) told the NY Daily News on Wednesday. “What we were able to do is extract meaningful concessions and important amenities for this community.”
5Pointz spokeswoman Marie Flageul was not surprised by the outcome. “But we are disappointed we were not given a chance to be part of negotiations,” she told the Daily News.
Property owners plan to tear down the brick warehouses-turned-art exhibition space by the end of the year or early 2014, clearing the way for a $400 million development project for two towers (one nearly 50-stories tall). Developers agreed to include additional space for affordable housing and artists’ studios on the three-acre site in Long Island City.
According to reports, developers must earmark one-fifth of the units in a project for low- and moderate-income tenants to qualify for tax-free financing. “My father, Jerry, bought it over 40 years ago thinking he’d develop it 39 years ago,” David Wolkoff, the principal of G&M Realty, told the New York Times. “We’re now transforming it into other types of buildings.”
In 2009, the Wolkoffs walked away from the former factory warehouse amid a long list of costly repairs and safety violations. But, 5Pointz curator Jonathan Cohen and other graffiti artists from around the world never abandoned it _ transforming every inch of exposed wall into incredible works of art. Those efforts ultimately helped boost tourism in the area and elevated its value on a global scale.
Cohen, better known as Meres One, said the new plans will “just destroy more of what made New York what it is. Now it is just boring, full of bland boring towers of boxes of glass,” in the New York Times article. Despite lofty promises to redevelop urban areas previously left to despair and decay, complete neighborhood histories are being erased by forcing out diverse pockets of communities economically.
Many local media outlets are jumping on the bandwagon to cover the saga at 5Pointz now _ too little, too late in my opinion considering its 11-year history. And, the established art world clearly missed an opportunity to step in and join efforts to save what should have been approved for designated landmark status years ago.
Respect to Meres, Marie and all the gifted writers and artists who’ve dedicated their lives and invested precious time and energy to share a creative vision unique to 5Pointz, a place that never truly can be replicated or replaced.
5 POINTZ: http://5ptz.com/