BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
A Federal Judge has extended a restraining order preventing the demolition of the “Graffiti Mecca” at 5Pointz, giving the artists another 14-day win over the proposed development.
According to Judge Frederic Block’s ruling on Oct. 28, the temporary restraining order (TRO) will extend through Nov. 12.
The federal action, filed earlier this month, after the City Council approved a special permit that would allow the developers of G&M Realty to build a pair of high-rise luxury buildings on a larger floor area that would include affordable housing units and designated artist space, is the nation’s first in which graffiti artists have sought legal protection for their artwork.
The lawsuit alleges to protect the 350 original works of art on the walls of the warehouse because of the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act and copyright law.
Under the terms of the TRO, the artists are not allowed to paint on the walls of the 200,000-square-foot warehouse and G&M Realty’s Wolkoffs are required to hold off all demolition-related activities at the site.
Block also announced a hearing prior to ruling on the artist’s motion for a preliminary injunction. The hearing will take place on Nov. 6 at 11 a.m. at the Federal District Court in Brooklyn.
During the hearing, Jeannine Chanes, one of the two attorneys representing the group of artists at 5Pointz, said the Judge will address the artist’s allegations that the property owners, Jerry and David Wolkoff, violated the existing TRO, by allowing construction workers to walk through the site all day on Oct. 26 and early Oct. 28.
Both walk-ins were done before the TRO order expired, which according to federal rule, extended through Oct. 28 at 5 p.m.
Marie Flageul, a spokesperson and volunteer at 5Pointz, said they took the court’s ruling serious, even though many international artists are in town and they have the desire to adorn the walls of 5Pointz with graffiti art.
“The rules are the rules,” Flageul said. “It was surprising to see the construction workers. We do not know what they were doing. But they did have hammers and mallets.”
The Wolkoffs did not comment in time for press.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.