LONG ISLAND CITY — The developer behind a controversial plan to replace Queens graffiti center 5 Pointz with a pair of luxury high-rises has agreed to more than double the number of affordable housing units in the proposal.
At a City Council hearing Wednesday, David Wolkoff of G&M Realty said the company will include 209 affordable apartments in its plan for 22-44 Jackson Ave., up from the 75 units agreed to in June.
"Our development will have a positive impact on the community," Wolkoff told members of the City Council's zoning subcommittee, saying G&M Realty would make its "best efforts" to rent the units to Long Island City residents.
Wolkoff said they agreed to the change — as well as a pledge that the project would create 1,000 union jobs — after discussions with City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who called the amendments "substantial."
"The increase in affordable housing is very important to me, and very important to many people," Van Bramer said at Wednesday's hearing, the first of two City Council hearings planned for the proposal.
G&M Realty is applying for a special permit to build larger than current zoning allows, proposing two buildings measuring 47 and 41 stories tall and containing about 1,000 luxury apartments between them.
The plan has drawn fierce criticism from many in the community, and its opponents came out in full-force to Wednesday's hearing, where they defended graffiti center 5 Pointz as a landmark that draws artists and visitors from around the world.
"We are very concerned that the soul of Long Island City is going to be lost," said Marie Cecile Flageul, a neighborhood resident and 5 Pointz volunteer.
Wolkoff and his father, Jerry Wolkoff, said they have included the local art community in their plans for the site by setting aside space for artists' studios, as well as "art walls" to display the works of street artists.
"Probably not too many people respect the aerosol arts more than I," said Jerry Wolkoff, who said he would welcome 5 Pointz artists back to curate the art walls at the future development if his plan is approved.
"I appreciate what they've done," he said.
But Flageul said the offer to use the wall space at the future development would not be the same as the 200,000-square-feet of canvas 5 Pointz has now at the site.
"We do appreciate the effort made by David and Jerry, but the amount of wall offered is not enough — if anything, it's going to remind people of what we've lost," she said.
Another City Council hearing is planned on G&M Realty's proposal Thursday, and the council could vote on the application as soon as next week, Van Bramer said.