Community Board votes down 5Pointz permit

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Artists and supporters of 5Pointz can breathe a little easier after Community Board 2 (CB 2) voted against the owner’s special permit application to develop the graffiti mecca into two high-rise apartment buildings.

The Wolkoff family, who has owned 5Pointz for decades, plans to demolish the graffiti-adorned warehouses located on Jackson Avenue and Davis Street and begin construction on apartment towers by the end of the year.

Although the community board voted unanimously against the special permit on Thursday, May 6, members warned that their vote was merely advisory. This means that the decision only applies to the developer’s application to build the proposed building larger than allowed by the current zoning rules. It does not stop the demolition of 5Pointz.

“As a matter of right, they can tear down that building and build something,” said Stephen Cooper, co-chair of CB 2’s land use committee. “If you want to stop that, you have to go and get it either landmarked or have it historically designated or have the art commission designate it. You’re going to have to go way beyond this room to do that, and I encourage you, if that’s what you want.”

Plans for the buildings — one reaching 47 stories and the other 41 stories — include close to 1,000 rental apartments, 30,000-square-feet of outdoor public space and 50,000-square-feet of retail space between them.

Upon listening to supporters who spoke during the public comment session of the board meeting — with one breaking into a rap song and another in tears — CB2 made the decision noting the proposed project is too excessive and “fails to address the impact on the community.”

On behalf of the board, Cooper said in order for such a large project to be considered, the developer must in return provide benefits for the community. Some of these include improvements to local mass transit, a percentage of the units in the buildings designated as affordable housing, partnership with local art organizations and a fund for local community groups.

After hearing the board’s decision, David Wolkoff said he was “disappointed” with the vote but will still continue moving forward.

“It’s disappointing but it’s a democratic process,” said Wolkoff. “We’ll move forward and I’m confident we’ll build the building we want.”

Although the construction of the buildings is still scheduled for 2014, Wolkoff plans to continue listening to the considerations and ideas from the community his family has been a part of for the past 40 years.

“I — we — will listen to all of them,” said Wolkoff. “We have always taken into considerations what the community wants.”