BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
It was a day of grievance for the artists who watched the walls of the “Graffiti Mecca” at 5Pointz painted white during the early hours of Nov. 19.
The property’s owner, Jerry Wolkoff, said he decided to paint over the walls of the warehouse between the hours of 3 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., because he “wanted to get it over with” and “did not want any confrontation.”
“To go through this torture of watching the building when I get it demolished one piece at a time is something that would be torturous for me and for them,” Wolkoff said.
The internationally-known warehouse in Long Island City is set for redevelopment by early next year. The developer’s plan to build a pair of luxury apartment condos that includes 200 affordable housing units and designated art space was approved by the City Council in October.
Wolkoff said instead of going back and forth with the artists, “Now we can go forward with the new building and we will have aerosol artists come back.”
Marie Flageul, a spokesperson at 5Pointz, said she jumped out of bed at 6:30 a.m. and ran to the site, but since the police were surrounding the area, they would not let her near the building because she did not have an identification card on her at the time. She said people are horrified.
“I cried for four hours and now I am angry,” Flageul said later on Tuesday.
“He [Jerry Wolkoff] painted the building because the landmarking commission was reopening the case,” Flageul said. “He disrespected the so-called vandals by going over everybody.”
According to a spokesperson from the Dept. of Buildings, a demolition permit has not been filed as of yet.
Wolkoff said before the demolition permit is filed, a certificate of demolition must be approved. He said the whole process should take about three months and he expects the warehouse to be empty by the end of January.
A group of 16 artists sued the Wolkoffs in October, which alleged a violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act and copyright law. It was filed to prevent the owner of the commercial property from destroying 5Pointz to build proposed apartment complexes.
After granting the artists a couple of Temporary Restraining Orders, Brooklyn Federal Judge Frederic Block issued a brief statement last week that said he will not grant a permanent injunction to stop the demolition of 5Pointz. Jeannine Chanes, one of the two attorneys representing the group of artists, said the case will move forward, but they are waiting to hear the Judge’s full written statement.
A vigil was held on Tuesday evening, where the curator of 5Pointz, Jonathan Cohen, the artists and the community gathered at the site to grieve the loss of 11 years of art.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.