It had been a while since we heard about Jerry Wolkoff’s plans to tear down the dilapidated warehouse he owns in Long Island City at 45-46 Davis Street—the world famous outdoor graffiti gallery and street art pilgrimage destination 5Pointz—and on Saturday the Times filed an update on the site’s uncertain future.
And the news is… nothing really; Wolkoff still wants to tear it down to build two high-rise residential towers, and curator-cum-director Jonathan Cohen (aka meresone) wants to preserve it. Wolkoff, the 74-year-old Long Island-based developer, told the Times:
There is an evolution going on in that part of Long Island City; the building is old, it doesn’t warrant repairs, and no matter what, it has to come down. [...] It’s time for me to put something else there. It’s a great location for young people and empty nesters who can’t afford Manhattan.
He claims the two 30-story high-end residential towers will include an unspecified number of affordable artists’ lofts and a rear wall reserved for graffiti writers—presumably facing the LIRR tracks passing the back of the building. To which Marie Flageul, a manager of sorts at the sprawling graffiti center, says: “A rear wall? That won’t cut it.”
Reactions culled from Community Board 2 chairman Joe Conley, an art handler from across-the-street neighbor MoMA PS1, a middle-aged graffiti writer and visiting octogenarians run the gamut from dismissive and disapproving to devotional. Don Ross, an 82-year-old designer in Long Island City to visit PS1 and 5Pointz, rightly asks: “As long as this place isn’t hurting anybody, why not leave it alone? It’s a form of public art.”