5 Pointz, the iconic Long Island City monument to graffiti art that’s been at the heart of an unsuccessful legal battle for landmark preservation status, disappeared Monday night in a pre-construction whitewashing. The move, marking the first stage in a construction project that will see the beloved outdoor art space turned into a high-rise condo development, took place a week after a New York City judge ruled that he could not get an injunction to halt demolition of the building.
According to Gothamist, Judge Frederic Block said on Friday that it pained him not to be able to grant an injunction but that the law sided with the rights of the building’s owners Jerry and David Wolkoff, who plan to demolish 5 Pointz by December and begin construction on two high-rises.
"I love the work and it’s going to tear my heart out to see it torn down, but as a judge I have to apply the law,” Judge Block said. “I can’t grant the injunction.”
The two buildings will be 41 stories and 47 stories high, with a combined 1,000 apartments, the New York Times reported. In order to appease critics, while also, it should be noted, qualifying for tax-free financing, the Wolkoffs have pledged to triple the amount of affordable housing units, from 75, to units. They have also promised to increase the amount of space for artists’ studios from 2,200 square feet to 12,000 square feet.
NYC activists have rallied around the warehouse, which has been a destination for street-art enthusiasts for 20 years. It even attracted a plaintive shoutout from Banksy when he departed the city after his monthlong residency in October. The secretive British street artist wrote on his website, “Thanks for your patience. It's been fun. Save 5pointz. Bye.”
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But even amid the Wolkfoffs’ concessions, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said there was nothing to be done for 5 Pointz. "The truth is there was not a way to save the building. The building is privately owned; the owners can knock that down and build a very large building,” he said.
View photos of Monday night’s whitewashing below.
Tenants of 5 Pointz vow to fight in court to preserve space. pic.twitter.com/CgtqnkrkHl
â€” Stephen Nessen (@s_nessen) November 19, 2013