The New York graffiti mecca in Queens known as "Five Pointz" will be be replaced with high rises and a luxury shopping mall, according to the Huffington Post.
Owner Jerry Wolkoff has allowed street artists to use the space rent-free since 1993, but now the former warehouse in Long Island City will be redeveloped and turned into two residential buildings towering up to 40 stories high. Marlon Bishop of WNYC reported that the $350 million dollar project will include shops and a supermarket, and a wall for graffiti artists to continue practicing their craft.
It’s a sad day for New York’s street artists because graffiti and hip-hop fans from around the world regularly visit the space. Members of the Five Pointz community have begun to circulate a petition seeking landmark status for the building (the name Five Pointz refers to the coming together of the five New York boroughs).
"This is a cultural landmark, not only for New York, but for hip hop culture worldwide," Steve Harrington, the author of the book "Street Art New York," told WNYC. "I can’t imagine that anybody needs more luxury high-rises. We need to keep our cultural institutions protected and preserved."
The artists’ cause will be a hard fight as the building is literally falling apart. In 2009, an exterior cement staircase collapsed and injured one woman, which forced artists who worked there to vacate their studios.
While Wolkoff has supported the artists for many years, he told WNYC, "The area desperately needs something like this development. It’s time to get the construction workers back to work."
If approved, Wolkoff hopes the project will be completed within a year and a half.