The property owners of the dilapidated Long Island City building that is legally covered with graffiti art as part of an organization called 5 Pointz says the new residential complex will retain some of its street art past.
The land takes up the block between Davis and Crain streets with frontage on Jackson Avenue. The brick building on Jackson Avenue houses a bar and a nonprofit, and the air conditioners upstairs and people in and out of front doors suggest multiple apartments. The large yellow building covered with 5 Pointz’s art houses a couple food cart and T-shirt manufacturers. The place is grimy, with rats scurrying through hallways and holes in the concrete.
Co-owner David Wolkoff is asking for a zoning change to allow 1,000 residential units, all rentals, in the structures’ places.
Plans call for two towers — one with 41 stories, the other 47 stories — which will be connected on the fifth floor with an outdoor esplanade.
Designs show an indoor pool, 10,000-square-foot gym, a meeting and party room, an art gallery and a 200-spot parking garage.
On Crain Street, Wolkoff envisions the main entrance to the lobby with a courtyard and a 50-by-200-foot mural — an homage to 5 Pointz’s artistic history.
“The artists are getting angry at me,” Wolkoff said. “But we have allowed them to do this. Other owners would immediately wipe out graffiti, but we like it and find it attractive.”
On Jackson Avenue there would be two stories of retail space, 50,000 square feet in total. As pedestrians turn the corner and walk down Davis Street, windows will be interspersed with “art walls” for graffiti art. Inside, the blueprints show space for four studios where artists can work and display pieces.
“We want some transition,” Wolkoff said. “The neighborhood has PS 1 and the graffiti art on the new building will be a nice tie in to the building.”
Separating the Sunnyside Yards from the building Wolkoff envisions a 20,000-square-foot public park with tables, lighting, a water feature and a vegetation wall peppered with more art walls to block the open space from the yards.
Wolkoff said he had reached out to the CEO of 5 Pointz, Jonathan Cohen, about possibly contributing to the new look of the towers.
“As of now I’m doing 5 Pointz,” Cohen said. “After 5 Pointz, I don’t know.”
Cohen said he’s thankful for the opportunity to run the program that not only displays graffiti, but hosts breakdancing and beatboxing; however, the planned demolition of the building has been stressful.
The project has been talked about for years and each time an article comes out with plans, Cohen receives about 50 emails from concerned artists.
“Until I see it I’m just going to focus on the summer program,” Cohen said. “When he’s ready to do it, just do it.”
The development application, which includes the zoning request, according to a Department of City Planning spokesman, was certified on March 22, which starts the Uniform Land Use Review Process.
The about seven-month process will include public comment starting with a yet-to-be scheduled meeting in May.
The Community Board 2 Land Use Committee met with Wolkoff two weeks ago.
“While as development goes it has many worthwhile features, I would prefer if the best minds in the private and public sector were focused on small artisan manufacturing and the arts,” committee member Kenny Greenberg said. “We seem to keep negating the side of the equation that is the production of real and tangible goods. We also keep pushing out the very people who have made the neighborhood attractive.We are doing very little to support whatever small business remains or to improve the existing infrastructure.”