Tourists Come From All Over To See Concrete Jungle Canvas NYC Treasure

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A battle is brewing to save an iconic building in Queens.

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It’s cool and colorful, but it soon may be condemned. The landmark covered with graffiti art could face the wrecking ball, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported Thursday.

You may have glimpsed it from the “7” train – a huge Long Island City building, a graffiti palace known as “5Pointz.” It’s a place where aerosol artists such as “Joel B” spray creations from a can.

“This is an institution. It’s famous worldwide. People come from everywhere to see this. It’s a big deal,” Joel B said.

For more than a decade the owners have allowed graffiti artists to use the building as a canvas. Hundreds of tourists visit each day.

“It’s interesting, much more interesting than, say, Times Square,” said visitor Edward Dickinson of London.

“It’s awesome. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere,” added Frank Mathews of Raleigh, N.C.

But the street art may soon be wiped away. The building owners want to tear 5Pointz down and replace it with two huge luxury residential towers, Aiello reported.

The developers plan to include some artist studios and a small space for graffiti art.

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Some in Long Island City say it’s a dynamic New York City has seen before — artists make an out-of-the-way neighborhood trendy, and then developers push them out.

Already Long Island City’s gritty charm is bumping up against the glass and steel of new high rises, and 5Pointz fans are exploring ways to save the building.

“There’s a lot of people trying to fight it, and, you know, have it be a cultural landmark,” Joel B said.

But 5Pointz artistic director Jonathon Cohen said he realizes New York City is also about the art of the deal.

“I understand they’re real estate developers, and their passion to develop,” Cohen said. “The artistic side of me feels one way and the other side of me understands.”

Cohen’s advice is to come see 5Pointz while you can. The graffiti palace may be gone this time next year.

The development plan was scheduled to be debated Thursday night at Queens’ Community Board 2.

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