The unanimous decision by New York's City Council to demolish the graffiti mecca known as 5 Pointz and replace it with luxury condos shows that the elite are still very much in control of what can and can't be done in New York City.
Located in Long Island City and visible from any seat on the 7 train, 5Pointz serves as one of the only (and the most prolific) areas in NYC for street artists to legally express their work. All of that is being taken away by year's end, in the name of development by the Wolkoff family, who own G&M Realty.
The apartments will consist of two towers: one standing at 47 stories and the other at 41, with close to 1,000 apartments between the two of them. All of this will take up 32,000 square feet of outdoor public space and 50,000 square feet of retail space, all of which, elevation included, are larger than current zoning laws allow.
Economically speaking, the condos will work heavily in New York's favor. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the area where 5 Pointz currently stands, has promised the condos will be built and staffed "with 100% union workers," according to the Queens Courier. Media outlets also report that the buildings will consist of 200 units of affordable housing.
Van Bramer also scored a victory for artists everywhere, as the Wolkoffs will permit the outside panels of the building to be decorated, as well as allot 10,000 square feet for artist's studios, up from an originally planned 2,000.
Yet, the Wolkoffs' victory shows that with money comes power in New York City. What took years for artists to create will be demolished in the blink of an eye by a wrecking ball. A spokesperson for 5 Pointz told the New York Daily News that, while they weren't shocked by the vote, they were upset the artists who helped make 5 Pointz a world-renowned landmark weren't allowed to be part of the negotiations.
Without the building, artists everywhere will be in need of a new place to stretch their creative muscles. As Rob MacKay, director of the Queens Tourism Council, told the Daily News, 5 Pointz not only fulfilled a need for artists, but it also gave them a sort of credibility.
By 2015, the images of Biggie Smalls and a leaping tiger will no longer grace commuters on their way into Manhattan. Riders will be forced to look at yet another larger than life building.