Artists vs. the World
TF Cornerstone has prevailed in its bid to build the second phase of Hunter’s Point South, the massive, middle-income housing complex on the Long Island City waterfront. TF Cornerstone, who lost out to the Related Companies to build the first phase in 2011, will partner with Selfhelp, a senior citizen non-profit, on the second phase, to build two towers designed by the ODA, with SLCE Architects as the architect of record.
The Department of Housing Preservation and Development announced its selection this afternoon, which it made after putting out an RFP; TF Cornerstone has extensive experience in the neighborhood, having developed the seven market-rate residential towers on the former Pepsi-Cola site, the last of which is slated to open sometime next year.
Artists vs. the World
“I’ve been coming here for years. It’s always been a great place where people will get together for art and peace and positive vibes,” said Rhonda Elhosseiny, gazing up at one of the exuberantly graffitied walls of 5Pointz, the Long Island City warehouse and global graffiti mecca. “But the reason I came today is that we don’t know how much longer it will be up and I wanted to see it again.”
She wasn’t the only one. This past weekend hundreds of visitors, including street art aficionados, hip hop-styled aerosol artists, thickly-accented Queens families, French tourists, Waspy couples pushing strollers and a 20-man crew of middle-aged birthday celebrants all wearing Polo, descended on the 200,000 square foot former factory. They came to take in the bright swirls of spray paint—some so fresh you could still smell the heady tang of chemicals in the air—offer sympathy and pay their last respects to the 5Pointz, which is slated for demolition early next year.
For a spray paint-wielding band of graffitists, the Queens street art collective 5Pointz certainly has an impressive nose for obscure legal code. In a frantic effort to remain in their Long Island City warehouse, last week the artists filed a suit in Federal Court against the owner of the warehouse, G&M Realty, citing a violation of the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990 (VARA), a rarely-invoked bulwark against the faulty attribution and unauthorized alteration of some types of visual art.
People don’t always think of Long Island City when they think of up-and-coming areas around Manhattan, but with amazing views of the Manhattan skyline and a developing artistic community and bar scene, LIC’s time is coming. Read More
In further confirmation of the stroller army’s successful invasion of Long Island City, New York Kids Club signed a 15-year, 5,003-square-foot lease at 4545 Center Boulevard.
The private “enrichment center” for preschool children will open by the LIC waterfront in September 2014 in TF Cornerstone‘s new mixed-use high-rise. This space–the tenant’s first in Queens–will offer preschool classes as well as after school, art, music and fitness programs.
During his opening remarks at the 5Pointz redevelopment hearing, developer David Wolkoff, whose father Jerry bought the Long Island City property in the 1970s, told the audience, “We’ve been members of the community for over 40 years.” Though they certainly tried (26 years! 29! 33! 4!), none of the speakers in opposition could quite top his time in Long Island City.
“I have fond memories of crawling in the basement of this building” as a child, he told the hostile crowd.
Normally the Wolkoffs wouldn’t have to grovel—it is, after all, their property. But the city dangles extra density as a carrot to developers— a tantalizing 60 percent in the case of this site— if they agree to build extra parking and plazas and to endure the public review process. (Amenities that Court Square has in abundance, including the surprisingly dense thicket of trees by One Court Square. If Jane Jacobs were still alive, we can’t help but wonder if she’d question the number of trees and the paucity of people.)
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Long Island City architecture, though respectable (The Observer appreciates the relative paucity of façade-ruining PTAC air conditioning grilles in new construction), is not exactly what you’d call edgy.
ODA Architecture would apparently like to change that. Far from the towers on the waterfront, it appears that the New York-based architectural practice is working on a project on Read More
Is Long Island City the next Murray Hill? Or the next Williamburg? Or has it gone straight from being like the old, before-it-was-cool Williamsburg to the future no-longer-cool because it’s all I-bankers living in luxury towers Williamsburg?
Who knows? Definitely not Long Island City. What Long Island City does know is that it doesn’t want to be Long Island City anymore. It wants to be “LIC,” which will stop tourists from thinking it is on Long Island and therefore, both uncool and really far away.
“It puts us out on Long Island, and that’s inaccurate—we are urban and hip,” Rob MacKay, head of the Queens Local Development Corp told the New York Post about the desired name change.
Long Island City proper might be square in the path of the storm surge, but up the hill in Astoria, things are looking a bit more placid.
The Observer took a walk around the neighborhood to see how folks were faring and discovered that, even though the rain was picking up and the wind beginning to Read More
As the above-ground train rolls past the Court Square stop on the 7 line, a stone’s throw into the heart of Long Island City, passengers are awakened by a defiant cacophony of shapes and colors against a backdrop of the graying and decrepit Queens skyline. There, a red-brick warehouse stands proud, one entirely outfitted in graffiti tags and murals by aerosol artists. Born of a mission to create a legal urban canvas for the criminal art form flaring up in excess throughout the city during the early ’90s, the brainchild of founder Pat DiLillo—then known as “The Phun Phactory”—opened in 1993. In 2002, Jonathan Cohen—an FIT grad who had been tagging since he was 13 and is better known in these parts by his nom de plume Meresone—began curating the work. He soon rechristened the building “5 Pointz,” after the five boroughs of New York City. But it has since branched out and become a cultural mecca of sorts, with pieces by artists from cities such as Paris, Madrid, London and Germany.
On any weekday, while businesses—a clothing factory, storage space for city hotdog vendors and a small non-profit gallery called Local Projects—hum away inside the building, Mr. Cohen can be found in or around the building, monitoring projects and making sure nobody is painting without his permission.
“I’m here every day, I have no life.”
But the 39-year-old Flushing Native may soon be getting his free time back—at the price of his life’s work.