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Little Known Federal Law Could Keep '5 Pointz' Wrecking Balls At Bay

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Graffiti artists won a round in court against developers who wanted to tear down their canvas, the famous Queens graffiti Mecca known as 5 Pointz.

The location is a hotspot for fashion shoots, music videos, and a gathering place for tourists with an eye for art.

Thida So and her son said they came all the way from Los Angeles to see the aerosol art that could soon be wiped away.

"I understand they need to develop. I'm in property management myself, but art like this needs to be preserved as well. This is history," So told CBS 2's Tony Aiello.

On Friday, the property dodged a wrecking ball.

The owner has allowed spray can creations for the past 20 years. Now, that owner has gotten the city's permission to tear 5 Pointz down and build 800 luxury condos and 200 affordable units. But, a federal judge has ordered a delay of any demolition.

Artists argued that their work was protected under an obscure federal law -- The Visual Artists Rights Act.

"People who create visual works of art, murals, these graffiti paintings at 5 Pointz have the right to have their pieces protected and preserved under the law. The landlord can't come in and just decide to destroy 20 years of art," attorney Roland Acevedo explained.

Developers countered that the artists have gotten overly creative with their interpretation of federal law.

"Graffiti works are temporary and the artists knowingly chose to affix them to structures that they knew from the outset would be demolished some day," the developers said.

The developer also claimed that creating housing and jobs is more important than preserving art.

However, many people believe that art at 5 Pointz helped make Long Island City a hotspot for development.

The wrecking ball will be kept at bay while a judge mulls the issue, Aiello reported.

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