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Demolition Begins At 5Pointz Graffiti Mecca In Long Island City, Queens

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The 5Pointz building in Long Island City, Queens – once a haven for graffiti artists – was under demolition Friday.

Heavy trucks began demolition of the building at 45-46 Davis St. in Queens Friday. The building is being torn down to make way for luxury apartments.

The demolition will take three to four months to complete.

From 1993 until 2013, graffiti artists were allowed to use the building as a canvas, but last fall, the owner got the city's permission to tear 5Pointz down and build 800 luxury condos and 200 affordable units.

The $400 million redevelopment project will include a new public park, over 50,000 square feet of retail space and a 250 space public parking garage.

A Village Voice cover story last month pointed out that the building was also known as a cheap working space for artists.

Originally a water meter factory, the building was purchased by developer Jerry Wolkoff in the early 1970s. It became known as both a graffiti mecca and artists' quarters after the last tenant, phonograph needle manufacturer Recoton, moved out, the Village Voice reported.

The building served as a backdrop for movies and music videos – notably including Joss Stone, who filmed her video for "Tell Me 'Bout It" on an exterior staircase in 2006, the newspaper reported.

But three years later, jewelry designer Nicole Gagne was severely injured when the same stairway collapsed, and afterward, the Department of Buildings issued violations and the artists in the studios inside had to leave, the newspaper reported.

The graffiti on the exterior continued until Wolkoff had the building whitewashed last year. He took heat for the move, but said it was not done maliciously.

"I'm never going to say anything bad about them. Why would I allow it to go on for close to 20 years if I didn't not only like but love the work that they do? The last thing I would want them to do is get arrested while I'm painting the building, their emotions would run over. I felt if I did it in the morning, it would get over with," Wolkoff told WCBS 880's Alex Silverman last year.

Last fall, graffiti artists filed a lawsuit claiming that their work was protected under an obscure federal law — The Visual Artists Rights Act, but last week a judge refused to grant an injunction that would have stopped demolition.

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