Long Island City, Real Estate
Aug 24, 2016

5 Pointz in the News: Karma or Simple Contention?

One thousand union workers protested the Wolkoff’s apparent ditching of an agreement they made to hire 100% union workers for the development on the former location of 5 Pointz in LIC.

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Image source: Youngking11 via Wikimedia Commons

This week our friend Bill Parry over at the Times Ledger reported on a recent protest in LIC regarding 5 Pointz (RIP). Apparently, the Wolkoffs (owners of the property) agreed to use 100% union labor in building their development, but they now claim this is not true. The protest was attended by “1,000 steamfitters, plumbers, carpenters and concrete workers” objecting to the Wolkoff’s perceived abandonment of the deal. Here it’s spelled out in the article:

“During the public review process, Wolkoff’s G & M Realty agreed to several major community givebacks, including a commitment to build and staff the site using 100 percent union labor, so that he could construct an additional 400 units.”

Keyword is “agreed” but it wasn’t a signed agreement, just a handshake—”Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building Trades Council of Greater New York… offered the developer a Project Labor Agreement. Wolkoff would not sign the pact, but gave his word and shook hands on the deal, LaBarbera said.”

Can I just say that this does not surprise me, what with the sneaky whitewashing of 5 Pointz that happened in the dead of night, which the Wolkoffs insisted that they “did it for the art.” At the time, the NY Times said the Jerry Walkoff insisted that, “painting over the artwork was the humane thing to do” and that “watching the art-covered walls be pulled down piece by piece would be ‘torture.’” Um…

But during this recent protest, some folks assert that the Wolkoffs “lied to everyone.” LaBarbera: “He gave his commitment that this job was going to be a Building Trades job and he went back on his word, he lied to everyone.” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer: “Jerry Wolkoff lied to me, Jerry Wolkoff lied to Gary, Jerry Wolkoff lied to every single New Yorker.”

Van Bramer also declared, “I will never believe another word you ever say nor will I ever approve any future project you want to build in my district or this city.” Jimmy has a good amount of clout with these things so pissing him off like this was probably not the brightest thing for the Wolkoffs to do.

Jerry Wolkoff gives the impression that his decisions are no big deal and that he did what was best for his development. But his decisions definitely fly in the face of all the pro-community spirit he claims to have uttered over the years. In short: what a mess. It will be interesting to see what, if any, repercussions happen in response to this kind of decision-making by the Wolkoffs.

What do you think? Do you think the Wolkoffs are totally in the right about this? Was it foolish to believe a handshake would seal the deal? Did the Wolkoffs make a major slip up in their development process? Will they find a bad luck tiki idol buried underground on the property one day? (I kid, I kid.) Let us know your thoughts with a comment.

Workers protest use of non-union labor at 5Pointz Towers construction site [Times Ledger]

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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