BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
As the 14-day temporary restraining order (TRO) came to its final hour on Nov. 12, a Federal Judge issued a brief statement that said he will not grant a permanent injunction to stop the demolition of the “Graffiti Mecca” at 5Pointz in Long Island City.
According to Jeannine Chanes, one of the two attorneys representing the group of artists at 5Pointz, and the defense attorney, David Ebert, representing the developer’s G&M Realty, the Hon. Frederic Block will issue a longer statement entailing the reasoning behind his decision sometime this week.
Even though this gives the property owner’s family, the Wolkoffs, the go ahead to raze the existing warehouses to construct a pair of luxury high-rises, Chanes said they are waiting to hear the Judge’s full decision to then consider other options.
In October, a group of 16 street artists, including Jonathan Cohen, the curator of 5Pointz, filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Federal Court to protect the artwork that adorns the walls of the warehouse and the cultural heritage it represents.
The lawsuit sought 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.
Marie Flageul, a spokesperson and volunteer at 5Pointz, said they are disappointed with Block’s decision because he did not address the violations of the TRO, but they have plans “to re-group and strategize on their next move, and try to keep faith in the system.”
“We are going to keep on fighting for artists that have passed, for our current artists and for the future generation. Just because [the case] did not go our way, does not make our fight less relevant or important for the art world, the community and the future generation,” Flageul said.
5Pointz tweeted a peaceful rally will take place on Nov. 16, starting at 3 p.m.
The Wolkoffs sought approval by the City Council earlier this year to build new towers, 41-and-47-stories high, on a larger floor area that would include affordable housing units and designated artist space.
In addition to the 200,000-square-foot walls of the warehouse that are home to hundreds of original works of street art, many of them dating back to many years, it is also home to some residents and business owners.
Ebert said he cannot comment until Block issues a full written statement.
The Wolkoffs did not comment in time for press.
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.