We thought it was over for Long Island City’s 5Pointz when New York’s City Council approved plans for the demolition of the so-called “Graffiti Mecca.” However, a recent lawsuit filed by a lawyer representing the artists resulted in a federal judge granting a 10-day restraining order to the group. This last-ditch effort is halting any construction on the site until at least October 28th.
The 17 artists that make up the group suing G&M Realty, the building’s owner, are doing so on the grounds that their artwork on the building should be covered by the Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA) of 1990, which covers the destruction of a recognized artist’s work. According to VARA, G&M Realty would not be able to destruct the artwork without the artists’ consent, which they would be unlikely to grant.
The Wolkoffs, owners of G&M Realty, have allowed graffiti artists to use the warehouse at 22-44 Jackson Avenue as a canvas since the early 1990’s, with graffiti covering nearly the entirety of the building, inside and out. The Wolkoffs have always been upfront about the fate of 5Pointz, fully-disclosing their intentions of demolishing the building and developing the land that they have owned since the 1970’s.
Due to community outcry, G&M Realty altered their initial plans for the development, and the final council-approved plans for the development of two 47-story luxury apartment towers include 210 affordable housing units, as well as 12,000 square feet of gallery/artist studio space, 50,000 square feet of retail space and a 32,000 square-foot public park.
If the artists are unsuccessful in their effort to stop the demolition of 5Pointz, its likely that other developers in Long Island City will bring about a new 5Pointz due to its popularity. You can be sure, however, that whatever replaces 5Pointz will be much more rigidly controlled.