off the books

Proposal for ‘5Pointz Towers’ Library May Have Sad Ending

The Court Square library need a new home — some would like to see it reopen in the apartment towers replacing the 5Pointz graffiti art center.
The Court Square library need a new home — some would like to see it reopen in the apartment towers replacing the 5Pointz graffiti art center. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

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A proposal to put a library in the apartment towers planned for the site of Queens’ former 5Pointz graffiti art mecca may not have a storybook ending.

Local Community Board 2 approved the Long Island City residential development Oct. 3 after adding a 5,000-square-foot library to the mix at the last minute.

But the board didn’t get the okay of the Queens Public Library — which likes the idea — and project’s developer, who doesn’t.

“They asked me and I’m contemplating what I’m going to do, but financially, it doesn’t make sense,” said developer Jerry Wolkoff.

Wolkoff said he first learned of the proposal when Community Board 2 shifted course from its previous opposition to the planned 1,122-apartment complex and decided a library would sweeten the deal.

Board members are looking for a replacement for the Court Square Library, which faces eviction from its longtime home in the Citigroup building this March.

‘Very Interested’

CB2 land use chair Lisa Deller said that the idea had not been discussed with either library officials or the developer prior to the sudden vote.

Elisabeth de Bourbon, a Queens Public Library spokesperson, told THE CITY library officials are “very interested in the proposal” and will meet with the community board this week to determine next steps.

The 5Pointz site is now one of two long-term options the library has identified for the Court Square branch, she said.

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

“Our goal is to provide uninterrupted service to the community and to our customers,” said de Bourbon, adding that the library plans to close the branch and vacate Citigroup Tower by the end of February.

She would not identify the other option, adding that all conversations were just preliminary.

Developer Balks

Meanwhile, Wolkoff told THE CITY he has yet to hear from either the board or the library, but that ultimately, he did not believe the plan was realistic.

He said the timing for granting large-scale community board requests had passed, adding that the board should have spoken up in 2013 when he first applied for a special permit to construct the apartment complex.

“I’m not against the community. They have everything right to ask for certain things when I’m going for the zoning and things,” he said. “But all of sudden this, this makes no sense to me.”

The 47- and 48-story 5Pointz Towers are scheduled for completion this coming spring, he added.

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

Wolkoff and his son David infuriated the artists who turned their former warehouse complex into an internationally renowned graffiti canvas by whitewashing the buildings in 2013 before demolishing them.

The community board did not comment on the library issue.

The City Planning Commission will review and seriously consider the community board’s recommendation, a spokesperson said. The Commission is scheduled to meet Oct. 15.

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