art of the deal

Community Board Pans Bulked-Up Plans for 5Pointz Towers

The 5Pointz building in Long Island City in 2013 before it was painted over.
The 5Pointz building in Long Island City in 2013 before it was painted over. Photo: Jeanmarie Evelly/DNAinfo

A Queens community board recommended Monday that the city deny a developer’s revised plans to build a luxury apartment complex at the site of the old 5Pointz street art mecca.

Developer David Wolkoff, who co-owns the property with his father, Jerry, is hoping to boost the number of units by 100 — for a total of 1,110 apartments — and increase each of the Long Island City complex’s two towers by one floor.

The previous design for what was once the site of a world-renowned collection of graffiti art had been approved by a special permit from the City Planning Commission in 2013.

In a letter to the Commission sent Monday, the board contended the revision is not simply a “minor” change, and that the “developer has sought every way to thwart community board review.”

The board argued the timing of the Wolkoffs’ application “exhibits an artful manipulation of the rules to inhibit any further community review within the required timeframe.” The application was received in mid-June, after the last full community board meeting until September, the letter noted.

Scene From an Italian Restaurant

Two weeks ago, ahead of the deadline for the board’s advisory opinion, David Wolkoff held a private meeting at Long Island City Italian restaurant with Denise Keehan-Smith, the board’s chair, and Lisa Deller, who heads its land use committee.

The board members wrote in the letter that they asked Wolkoff for some clarification that had initially been requested at a June 20 land use meeting — such as the number of three-bedroom and affordable units planned for the complex.

The 5Pointz development in Long Island City, July 19, 2019.
The 5Pointz development in Long Island City, July 19, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

They said that weeks elapsed before a response was received last Friday afternoon, leaving the board with little time to discuss.

Jerry Wolkoff told THE CITY on Monday that there is “no reason for these people [the board] to do what they’re doing.”

“For them to say that is something so unreasonable, why don’t they look at what I gave them?” Wolkoff said. “We gave them a beautiful building, we bother nobody, we’re there putting in a public park that they want, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t go along with it … There’s an undercurrent that they want to show their authority on something that’s not really true.”

Keehan-Smith and Deller could not be reached for comment. The Wolkoffs infuriated many in 2013 by whitewashing the art that proliferated at the former warehouse complex — a move that’s the subject of ongoing litigation.

The board’s opinion is advisory. The developers’ application will likely be heard at an upcoming City Planning Commission review session in August or September, an agency spokesperson confirmed. There’s no deadline for a decision.

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