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The 5Pointz artists in Long Island City are marking another small victory in the lawsuit against G & M Realty and the planned demolition of the graffiti mecca.
Federal District Judge Frederic Block extended the temporary restraining order for another two weeks and has scheduled a hearing for Nov. 6. The main issue the judge has to decide is whether the 350 murals that cover the old warehouse complex, at 22-44 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City, are “transitory or permanent” works of art.
Lawyers for the artists had argued Oct. 17 that the murals should be protected under the 1990 Visual Arts Rights Acts. The lawyers for owner David Wolkoff countered with information culled from the 5Pointz website that the artists covered up their own work to create more space for new ones.
The judge will also rule on whether to issue a preliminary injunction that would stop G & M Realty from tearing down 5Pointz until the lawsuit’s resolution.
“That’s something that could take a year or two,” said Jeannine Chanes, the lead attorney for the artists.
The owners of 5Pointz received unanimous approval from the City Council to raise the block-long complex of warehouses and factories to make way for a dual tower luxury residential and retail complex.
The extended TRO will give both sides a chance to line up witnesses, and there will be cross-examination, according to Chanes. “We’re very happy that the judge did the right thing. We’re glad to get a hearing, but we have to make sure we take it one step at a time.”
David Wolkoff was not available for comment.
A new issue was entered into the case Monday when Chanes lodged allegations that Wolkoff had violated the TRO warning that the owners could not touch the artwork or prepare the building for demolition while the order was in effect, but construction workers were seen on the site Saturday and again Monday.
“It was a little surprising to see them there with their hardhats on carrying hammers and mallets,” said Marie Cecile Flandeul, the artists’ spokeswoman.“All of our visitors were puzzled as well.”
She was not sure what the workers were doing because they were in a restricted area of the compound.
“There was no friction between us and them,” she said, adding that “in fact they were laughing and taking pictures of 5Pointz and having a good time.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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