After months of tension, debate and a civil suit, the demolition of 5Pointz is slated to begin in the coming weeks.
The graffiti mecca, once adorned with aerosol paintings by street artists, was whitewashed in November and now resembles a disheveled and tired version of what it once was.
“It was heartbreaking when it happened,” Eileen Ferrera, a Long Island City resident, said. “I hated what they did, really hated it. There was a lot of sadness, but to see it like this every day is way worse. It’d be nice to see this move forward.”
The demolition, which should be completed by October, will make way for two luxury towers — applications for which were filed with the Department of Buildings on Tuesday.
“We’re really excited,” said David Wolkoff, co-owner of the 5Pointz building and developer. “It’s going to be a great project and good for the area.”
Demolition will happen in stages, Wolkoff said, and passersby can expect to see a safety fence erected around the perimeter before any work is done. Then, piece by piece, the building will be taken apart.
Once completed, the former outdoor graffiti space will feature residential space, garage, public green space and several amenities, including a gym, indoor pool, media rooms, salon, classrooms and a tennis court.
“We’re still early in this but by 2016, people will be starting to occupy the residences,” Wolkoff said.
Though the end result will be a lavish space, there is a cost.
The dozens of artists who left their tag on the building felt betrayed by Wolkoff and his father and business partner, Jerry, calling the whitewashing “art genocide.”
But the Wolkoffs have said on a number of occasions that the painting over of the artwork was intended to be a sort of buffer: a way to dull the pain artists and art lovers would feel in watching their work crumble into a mountain of rubble.
“I see what they were saying with that,” John Greenburg, a Hunters Point resident, said of the whitewashing. “It probably would have been much worse if the art went down with the building, but it did become somewhat of an eyesore. It looks awful right now. At least if the artwork was still there, we’d have something nice to look at until they bring it down.”
Demolition was originally set for earlier this year but was stalled when city approval took longer than expected.
Now that the developers have been given the go-ahead, Wolkoff said they’re moving forward at full steam.
In addition, developers said they have no intention of completely removing art from the new space. They plan to honor the tradition by setting aside designated walls for street artists as well as indoor art space for more traditional artwork.
Wolkoff said they have been in talks with several artists to curate both the street art and the indoor gallery space, but they have yet to fill the position as it is still early.
“We’re happy it’s moving forward, we can’t wait,” he said. “We’ve been in this community for 40 years and we’re looking forward to 40-plus more.”