Sunday, August 2, 2009

Building owner says 5 Pointz will be evicted

From the Times Ledger:

Even as friends and colleagues of the artist critically injured in the April staircase collapse at Crane Street Studios in Long Island City prepared a fund-raiser to help with her expenses, the tight-knit creative community that used the building for workspace is preparing to pack its bags.

The city Department of Buildings issued an immediate vacate order on the building after the collapse and Wolkoff was fined $12,800 for various violations. Artists have not been allowed to return to work in the three months since the collapse, pending facade repairs and clearing the art studio for use with the city.

“It’s idiotic. I am upset. I am sick over it, but there’s nothing I can do,” Wolkoff said. “For me to get a certificate of occupancy to make studios, you’ve got to put glass walls in. What are you, crazy? That’d cost me a million dollars. I don’t make money on these as it is.”

DOB spokeswoman Carly Sullivan said Wolkoff submitted an application to legalize the studios in June, but the agency rejected it, noting several objections.

Wolkoff said the building, elaborately decorated by graffiti artists, may return to its industrial origins.

“I’m just going make it back to a factory,” he said. “It’s grandfathered in as a factory.”

And LIQCity points out that the building recently got a coat of paint. (See above photo.)


Oh Pa-lese! said...

$12k for a man that rich? A wrist slap.

Was that building dangerous? Open question.

But changing its use suddenly will certainly make if very difficult to gather evidence (unless the evicted artists make a careful photo documentary to help their friend should she look at remedies).

A factory?

Yes, and Monsterrat is kind to women, the 7 Line is the center of the universe, the machine has our interests at heart and Vicky can do restaurant reviews.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is a famous factory, right up there with Triangle Shirtwaist. The owner should not have complained about the glass walls, instead he should have said what he really means, "Make it safe? That takes money, who cares if these b@st@rds burn.

Anonymous said...

Wolkoff appears to be one of those numerous commercial slumlords throughout NYC who rarely spend a penny to repair their decaying buildings!

Isn't it his wife's (Sands Hotel?) money that made him a "big cock" in the real estate industry?

Ask his chauffer if $12K would put much of a bite on Wolkoff's fat wallet as he whisks him from his posh Park Ave. residence around NYC to inspect his fiefdom.

The servicing of that big black limo he rides around in runs much more than that!

Erik Baard said...

The good news is that Flux Factory ( and The Space ( are working hard to create studio space on Queens Plaza.

Queens Plaza really should be a huge arts and culture hub. I admire the sentiment of those trying to make Queens Plaza a green space, but the efforts are misplaced. Green areas should ring the plaza, a block or so out from it. At its heart it's impossible to have a sitting park or habitat restoration.

Imagine instead an elegant tower rising from the Kennedy parking lot on the plaza (as opposed to between residences in Dutch Kills) with the trains passing through it ( That will take some nifty sound engineering, but it feels more possible than a peaceful park below.

The ground floor could have exhibit space, and inside the tower could be performance spaces. A Queens answer to the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Sorry Eric ... said...

Good idea but with the gready landlords around the square this will not happen, Eric.

The LI Savings Bank would have been a stunning centerpiece to a cultural hub that would have been accessable to Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.

You need creativity and imagination, two missing pieces that seem to be nowhere on the horizon when it comes to the leadership of this boro.

Anonymous said...

The newspaper writer doesn't seem to want to think too much.

Wolkoff could run up $12k on a monthly Amex bill.

That is what happens when you send 20 somethings earning 20 something to report news.

Anonymous said...

Part of Bam's attraction is its unique architecture.

What kind plastic looking crap will they build at QP that can rival it?

Anyway (and sorrowfully)...artists have become the traditional sacrificial lambs for the real estate industry in NYC.

Remember that SoHo used to be a grimy area in the 60s until the "artistes" moved in.

But they weren't smart enough to buy in. Too bad!

So after these urban art/pioneers upgraded the nabe they were priced out of their studios by their landlords!

Real estate owners' mega bucks are nuclear compared to the diminutive power of the arts.

Erik Baard said...

I agree about the loss of the LI Savings Bank. I live behind the empty lot where it stood. When they build, I'll lose my sunrises as I lost my sunsets to the MetLife expansion on the old Brewster building. My first and only look at its interior was when I saw them converting it into a club. I thought this club might be a cool spot that encouraged the arts. Alas, Club Blis was Velveeta -- cheesy but not even real cheese. Processed out of all life.

The it turned violent. One morning a few years back I heard gunshots and ran out and toward them. The cops were right on the scene, but we arrived (within two minutes) to see a kid with his head blown open. That resonated because he was the same age as my uncle, John Larkin, who was murdered the same way.

Club Blis was closed down. I had hopes for a restart, but when I saw boring done I knew the owners planned to erect a tower, not restore the bank.

Anyway, long detour. I do think something great could be built on Queens Plaza if the community stays on it at every step. Blogs like this facilitate that.

Lino said...

In my opinion, this landlord is likely going to try for a grant to fully legalize the building.

Look at the alternatives: Condos/offices? No. Lousy area for either, plus a glut of both along with the fact that LIC isn't 'hot' anymore.

Factory? Not with all those empty spaces already in that area. Manufacturing is -leaving-.

So what is left, more ware house/self-storage.

Remote possibility: School.

He'll get a grant and the artists will higher rents...hopefully a more attractive facade.

a former "tenant" said...

He's not going to get any grant money "lino" and you don't know squat about not for profit/tax exempt law.

Grants aren't written to rehab premises to make them legally comply with the NYC building codes.

Jerry Wolkoff never cared shit about the artists or their studios.

The building used to house several sweat shops (one making boot leg goods) a display/design firm, etc.

When two of those garment factories "went south" one night, he was left with a hefty rent roll hole.

So he got the bright idea of illegally carving up the floors into a warren of studio/flop pads for "artistes".

They were being rented (without leases) in the price range of about $300 to $800 monthly.

So if one artist copped out of paying rent slumlord Wolkoff was only out a pittance compared with losing out on an entire floor.

Jerry was simply minimizing his risk by spreading out the rentals.

Cap-peesh now?

lino said...

"He's not going to get any grant money "lino" and you don't know squat about not for profit/tax exempt law."

-And you obviously don't know anything about the theater industry where I worked for 14 years.

Grants -are- given to companies to improve facilities. -If- it is a non-profit situation such as this landlord has often claimed, he may set up a separate corp w/"independent" board, and go after public and private money.

I don't doubt your contention that landlord "never cared shit about the artists or their studios." -that is par for the course.

The fact is that finding "sweatshops" or anything else to occupy that building isn't as easy as it was a 16 years ago and the building itself will probably be under increased scrutiny now, something as innocuous as an artist's colony is a safer bet.

BTW: You seem rather bitter about the whole issue. Is it that your own "art" was not able to pay the rent? :-)