David Wolkoff, whose family has owned the building known as 5Pointz for four decades, recently unveiled the latest plan to remake the former factory at a Community Board 2 land use committee meeting.
Wolkoff, whose father Jerry has spoken of replacing the aging building for years, said the evolving Long Island City landscape means the time is ripe for redevelopment.
“Over the last five to ten years, Long Island City is rapidly changing,” Wolkoff said. “There’s new developments going on all the time.”
Wolkoff wants to build two high-rise rental apartment buildings standing 47 and 41 stories tall, sometime in 2013. When completed, the nearly 1 million-square-foot complex would also include about 30,000 square feet of retail space and apartments that would be rented at market rate, he said. The complex would be larger than is permitted under current zoning, so Wolkoff would likely need to apply for a variance.
Owner Jerry Wolkoff and his son David Wolkoff tour iconic 5Pointz graffiti-splashed building in Long Island City and discuss plans to build two residential towers there. DelMundo for News
The developer said he will soon submit formal plans to the city Planning Department for certification. The projects will then go before the community board and the borough president’s office, which will make recommendations to the city planning commission.
Community Board 2 Chairman Joseph Conley said the board is working with Wolkoff to ensure the project is not too dense for the up-and-coming area.
“Overall, the plan is for developing a space that has been underutilized for years,” he said.
The Wolkoffs have allowed aerosol artists to use the building as a constantly evolving canvas since the early 90s. Wolkoff promised to set aside a wall to continue the tradition as well as two 1,200-square-foot studios for artists.
“There will be a continuing program of art on the pedestrian level,” he said. “We want to have some connection to the past and some connection to the future.”
Still, 5Pointz collective founder Jonathan Cohen lamented the iconic graffiti-caked structure’s inevitable end.
“It’s the closest thing to real hip hop in the city,” said aerosol artist Cohen, adding that online efforts and a petition to save the building have flatlined. “It means a lot to a lot of people. It’s more than graffiti.”
Meanwhile, Cohen and the stream of artists, breakdancers and beatboxers 5Pointz attracts will use the space until the wrecking balls comes to tear it down.
“I’ll be there until the end,” he said.