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Photographs of the recently completed luxury development at the former site of the 5Pointz graffiti murals in Long Island City, Queens, show how a local monument to graffiti art has been unrecognizably transformed. The updated style of the drab, gray residential behemoth is increasingly plaguing neighborhoods across New York City.
In November 2013, two decades’ worth of elaborate murals by such legendary street artists as Blade and Lady Pink were illegally whitewashed overnight at the request of developer Jerry Wolkoff of G&M Realty. Nine of the artists sued Wolkoff for failing to give notice and preventing them from documenting or preserving their work prior to the building’s demolition. In 2018, a federal court ruled that Wolkoff violated the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA) and awarded $6.7 million in damages to 21 artists at the site in a precedent-setting decision to protect aerosol art.
The high-rise residential towers at 22-44 Jackson Avenue feature more than 1,100 apartments ranging in price from about $2,500 to over $6,000 a month, excluding prime penthouses, and 337 “affordable” housing units — although only households making at least $63,000 are eligible to apply for them, according to Patch.
The development’s website boasts “near-countless amenities,” including an indoor pool and basketball court, a gaming room, a co-working space, and a sky lounge that will “allow you to create the life of your dreams.” These various rooms are adorned by monotonous rows of paintings of the ubiquitous “hotel lobby” genre and a bland selection of mid-century-meh furniture. Fortunately, the condos’ planners seem to have scrapped their tacky idea of filling the space with graffiti-inspired artwork in a paltry homage to the 5Pointz artists whose work it destroyed.