Developer Amends 5Pointz Plan to Include Affordable Housing and Art Spaces

By Jeanmarie Evelly on July 8, 2013 5:05pm 

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 The plan now includes 75 afforable units and expanded art studio space.
Plans to Redevelop 5Pointz
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LONG ISLAND CITY — The developers behind a plan to turn 5Pointz into a pair of high-rise luxury apartment buildings have changed their proposal after criticism from the community — throwing in some affordable housing and public art walls when the graffiti mecca is torn down.

G&M Realty's plan for the site at 22-44 Jackson Ave. will now include 75 affordable housing units, as well as an additional 10,000 square feet set aside for low-rent artists' studios, according to Community Board 2 chair Joe Conley.

The LIC Post first reported the changes. David Wolkoff, whose family has owned the building for decades, did not immediately return a request for comment Monday.

But Conley said Wolkoff and his father, Jerry Wolkoff, offered to make the changes based on feedback they received at several community meetings, where their plan got a chilly reception from local artists and some members of CB2.

The Wolkoffs are vying to tear down the graffiti-covered warehouses at 5Pointz to make way for two massive residential towers — 47 and 41 stories tall — totaling at about 1,000 apartments. They can build in the space as-of-right, but are applying to the Department of City Planning to construct a larger development than current zoning allows.

CB2 voted against the Wolkoffs' land use application last month.

"We thought there should be more amenities for the community," said Conley, saying the board had advocated for the inclusion of affordable housing, fairly priced parking and space for neighborhood artists.

The Wolkoffs have since agreed to add the 75 affordable units to their proposal and have promised to offer their 200 parking spaces to the community at a competitive price, Conley said.

In addition to the increased artists' studio space, the Wolkoffs have also said they will work with local arts organizations like MoMA PS1 to curate public "art walls" around the building to display the work of neighborhood artists, Conley said.

CB2's original vote against the project still stands, but the changes to the plan could help to ease tensions between the Wolkoffs and local residents.

"He wants to be able to build a better relationship with the community," Conley said.

Local artists have slammed G&M Realty's proposal, arguing that 5Pointz is an irreplaceable center for street art that draws artists and tourists from around the world.

The Wolkoffs have countered they allowed artists to use the buildings as a canvas for years, free of charge. But after CB2 voted against him last month, David Wolkoff told DNAinfo New York that he would "seriously consider" the board's complaints about the plan.

"We're a part of the fabric of this community and in that sense, we're going to listen to what the community has to say," he said at the time.

The Queens Borough President's Office is set to make the next recommendation on Wolkoff's land use application soon. After that, the plan will need the approval of the City Planning Commission, City Council and ultimately, the mayor.

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