LONG ISLAND CITY — The owner of the 5Pointz complex currently being demolished to make way for apartment towers are trying to have the name of the street art mecca trademarked — a move artists criticized as trying to "bank off our name."
G&M Realty, the developer planning to build about 1,000 rental units at the Long Island City site, submitted an application in March to trademark "5Pointz," according to documents filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The latest filing shows their bid was initially refused in June because the mark was too similar to another that's already registered, according to the document. G&M Realty has six months to respond to the decision.
Jerry Wolkoff, the developer, said 5Pointz refers to the location, not the artists or the artwork that previously adorned the property.
"The building is known as 5Pointz," said Wolkoff, who has owned the complex for decades. He allowed street artists to use the walls as a canvas for years before abruptly painting over much of the work ahead of demolition in 2013.
Wolkoff said he will likely use the name to refer to the future development that's planned at the location — two high-rise apartment towers measuring 41 and 47 stories tall — where he said he'll welcome street artists back with walls for them to paint on.
"I'm bringing the artists back," he said. "The building is going to be back and the artists are going to be back."
Marie Cecile Flageul, a volunteer and spokeswoman for the 5Pointz artists, called G&M Realty's trademark attempt an effort to "bank off our name."
"It's ironic that the same corporation which single-handedly destroyed all the artwork known as 5Pointz is trying to capitalize on its name," she said.
"The disrespect continues, I suppose," said Jonathan Cohen, who was the curator at 5Pointz and goes by the tag name Meres One. He said he continues to get calls from artists who aren't aware of the demolition asking to paint at the site, or people asking for a tour.
According to the New York Times, Meres One gave the building the name in 2002 after Wolkoff gave the graffiti artists at the complex more free rein.
Flageul said the artists who worked at 5Pointz are still in touch and continue to do projects at different locations. A group of them painted a 9/11 memorial mural in Crown Heights in September.
"5Pointz the people is still alive," she said.
Demolition at the 5Pointz site, at Jackson Avenue and Davis Street, continues. Much of the center of the complex was seen to be gutted during a visit to the location last week and Wolkoff said he expects to see the remainder torn down by the end of the year.
His future plans for the site will include walls for street artists to paint on outside the building and in the back of the development, as well as in an interior walkway that links one tower to the other, he said.
The development will also include 12,000 square feet of space for artist studios, he said.
Wolkoff, who said he loves art, believes artists will return to the site once construction of the new buildings is complete, and that it will be similar to what it was before.
"Most of the people will be back, they’ll be back and they’ll be happy and it'll be better," he said.
Flageul, however, said she is skeptical about whether any artists she knows would return to the future site to work.
She said demolition of the complex has been something of a "relief" as she prefers to see it come down than look at the whitewashed walls, which had been that way since much of the art was painted over last November.
"Personally, I feel much better looking at the demolition than dealing with the whitewash," she said. "For me, 5Pointz died Nov. 19th ."