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Fate of 5Pointz awaits approval from city board

Jonathan "Meres One" Cohen, curator of 5Pointz, says he is focusing on the anniversary of the outdoor art exhibition rather than the developer's plans to tear it down and replace it with a mixed-use property.
TimesLedger Newspapers

Long Island developer Jerry Wolkoff said he is excited the wheels are turning on his plan to radically change 5Pointz, a former factory turned graffiti mecca, but the curator of the aerosol art was uncertain about both the project and his own future.

Wolkoff, who has owned the site for more than 40 years and allowed graffiti — or aerosol — artists to paint there for the last 10, is awaiting approval from the city Board of Standards and Appeals in his quest to change the vacant former factory, at 45-46 Davis St. in Long Island City, into a mixed-use building.

Wolkoff and his son David are requesting an increase in the floor area ratio that the new buildings can take up more space on the lot and they need to get BSA’s thumbs up before submitting the plans again to Community Board 2 for approval.

“I think it’s a great and exciting development that we’ll be building there,” Jerry Wolkoff said.

The BSA’s website had not scheduled a hearing date as of presstime Tuesday.

Plans for the new 5Pointz include retail space, which Wolkoff said he hopes will include a grocery, and 1,000 rental units.

“I think that the rentals are in demand, especially with more office buildings going in the area,” Jerry Wolkoff said.

He said he plans to continue to support the artist community through loft spaces for artists and a public open space that will have walls where aerosol artists can create murals. Jerry Wolkoff said the site’s close proximity to MOMA PS1 will be a boon to the project.

“I think PS 1 is a great thing and me being across the street is just another added thing for us,” he said.

The curator of 5Pointz, Jonathan “Meres One,” said at the moment he is concerning himself more with the outdoor art space’s 10th anniversary than with Wolkoffs’ plans. Nevertheless, Cohen said while he does not believe Jerry Wolkoff has a responsibility to set up a space for the artists, what will be left for them will not be a sufficient replacement.

“When 5Pointz is gone, my question to the city is what are they planning for the 1,000-plus artists a year who now have nowhere to go?” Cohen asked. “Are they going to hope that every artist at 5Pointz stops or goes away or the art form does?”

Cohen said he was unsure if he would continue the partnership after the change and what he planned to do next.

Dan Miner, senior vice president for business services of the business group Long Island City Partnership, said he hoped other developers would follow Jerry Wolkoff’s lead in establishing spaces for artists.

“The presence of art brings a lot of positive attention to neighborhoods and to individual buildings,” Miner said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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