Developer backs out of Sunnyside affordable housing project after opposition from community – QNS.com

Developer backs out of Sunnyside affordable housing project after opposition from community

Rendering by MHG Architects/via Department of City Planning

An affordable housing project in Sunnyside that would have added about 200 affordable units to the neighborhood has been squashed after developer Phipps Houses decided to back out.

The project, which would be located at 50-25 Barnett Ave. was met with opposition from the community since it was first proposed. In October, Phipps Houses held a public forum in neighboring Sunnyside Gardens and almost everyone who attended expressed concerns.


Residents even created an online petition asking Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and Community Board 2 to oppose it.

The project was in the six-month public approval process when, on Sept. 19, developers announced to Van Bramer that they canceled their plans.

“This morning, Phipps informed me that they have withdrawn their application to build an apartment building on Barnett Avenue in Sunnyside,” Van Bramer said. “I welcome this decision.”

Van Bramer, who ultimately had the final say on whether the project could continue, argued that the already congested 7 train and lack of schools and other infrastructure would make the area less than ideal for an influx of new residents. He also said that the project was too tall and would create traffic.

He, along with Community Board 2 asked Phipps Houses to come back with a scaled-down version of the project, but the developer never altered the plans.

In June, Van Bramer announced that he would not support the 10-story project and would vote it down when it came to his desk. City Council makes the final decision for these projects and council usually defers to the local official whose district the project is in.

Currently, the lot is a 200-space parking lot owned by Phipps Houses.

About 20 percent of the units would have been reserved for households making less than 50 percent Area Median Income (AMI). Approximately 30 percent of units would be set aside for households earning 80 percent AMI or $62,120 for a family of three. A maximum of 50 percent would be rented out to households earning up to 130 percent AMI or $101,010 for a family of three.

Plans also included a pre-K center and 101 parking spots. The project would have generated 570 new residents.

Van Bramer had a public spat with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said the project would be a “blessing for the community,” according to The Wall Street Journal. De Blasio told reporters in August that he plans to have a “polite but firm” conversation with Van Bramer about his opposition to the project, which angered the councilman.

“I don’t work for the mayor,” Van Bramer told The Wall Street Journal. “And I do not appreciate the tone that I will be spoken to in a firm manner.”

Sunnyside is not the only neighborhood that has opposed an affordable housing project touted by the mayor. An apartment building in Inwood that would include 335 units, half of which would be affordable, was voted down by councilman Ydanis Rodriguez after opponents argued that the project should have no luxury units.

A spokesperson for Phipps Houses declined to comment.

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