A warehouse building in Long Island City has been an international mecca for street art. It's called 5 Pointz. But early Tuesday morning the private owner had most of it whitewashed. The artists are devastated.
The building's owner, Jerry Wolkoff, told me he loves the aerosol and graffiti art, and allowed the artists to create there for nearly 15 years. Now he said it is his turn. The building will be torn down in January. To ease the pain, Wolkoff said he decided to paint over what was there in advance of the demolition.
But the artists are outraged.
City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer helped broker a deal with the owner so that the current mostly vacant warehouse will be replaced by 1,000 apartments, including about 20 percent for affordable housing, shops and a public park. Van Bramer said that indoor and outdoor space will honor its street art history. One façade will be available to artists.
Van Bramer said the private owner did not have to agree to any of that, and could have done whatever he wanted with the property.
But that is not how those who love 5 Pointz see it.
On the other side of this building, the artists are working on an RIP mural.
The building owner said he hoped the whitewashing would avoid confrontations with the artists, and that they would understand that now as the neighborhood is changing, it's time for this to change too.