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Landmarks Commission Rejects Aluminaire House Proposal

Jan 17, 2014 By Christian Murray

The controversial plan to develop a former playground site within the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District was rejected by the Landmarks Preservation Commission this week, according to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

The proposal, which called for the construction of eight residential units—behind an architecturally significant aluminaire house–on the corner of 39th Avenue and 50th Street was voted down this week.

“The decision was a complete rejection of the aluminaire house,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “It was very clear that it was not a good fit … to plop down that house in this neighborhood.”

Landmarks also had some issues with the construction of the eight housing units, although the details were not known at publication.”They could technically respond [to the housing component] but the aluminaire house is not happening,” Van Bramer said.

The aluminaire house– which was built in 1931 as a prototype for affordable housing– would have occupied a portion of the playground site and would have essentially been an architectural museum piece.  The adjacent residential units would have been clad with terracotta-colored panels, with a brick pattern.

The developer’s plans, presented by Michael Schwarting, an architect with Campani and Schwarting Architects, were criticized from the moment they were announced last summer.

“Victories like this one cannot be understated,” said State Sen. Mike Gianaris. This is particularly the case, he said, since “We seek to preserve the character of our neighborhoods as more and more people flock to western Queens.”

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I am so happy to read this! Thank you Jimmy Van Bramer, Herb Reynolds, Nick Gulatta, Regina Shanley, Joe Conley, and all the elected officials who fought this. We must maintain the beautiful character of our neighborhood.


So many comments on a topic that’s already been discussed to death. Let’s hope something good comes of all this and that space turns into something that its neighbors will find acceptable.

Interesting how so many negative posts regarding empty storefronts on 43rd & GP aves, as if the fault lies with the residents of Sunnyside. Huge changes in the marketplace have taken place in the past generation and many of us shop differently than we did a few years ago. It’s hard for some of us to understand how so many business remain open! It’s cheaper for me to order (groceries, electronics, music, movies, hardware, soft goods, etc.) online and have it delivered to my door. Which stores do you think will be around in five years? Which shopping districts will thrive? Not the little guys, the independants, that’s for sure.

I do try to buy food locally- glad to see the corporate version of pizza in town is suffering, while the real pizzerias keep selling those slices. The factory-food places keep offering deals in the windows (two “sandwiches” for $5!) but the real food places in Sunnyside continue to do well and I’m glad.


What in Heaven’s name is wrong with wanting to live in a quiet place? Calling people names because they like things quiet is stupid. I don’t want to live next door to a museum. If I did, I would have done all I could to move into Manhattan. I like the idea of being able to go outside on a nice day, enjoy what nature has to offer and meet my neighbors. As is it the only time I meet people is at the laundry mat.

And most of the people I know do not own homes or condos. They are doing all they can to hold on.

John Doe

woohooo!!! fighting for the big wins!!! the park can remain abandoned for the next few decades!!! congrats!!! i can’t wait to move out of this insular neighborhood!

Craic Dealer

Its a good thing these CHAVS were stopped. The Aluminaire House was just a ploy to get rental-housing on that corner.

Sunnysiders are nice but they will defend themselves against greedy bastids.


@ Relax

I can tell you’re not here to support business just look up and down Greenpoint and 43rd avenues.

And I’m not above anyone turning outlandish profits, I’m sure most Gardens “elite” got theirs on the cheap… So not sure what that argument is about. There’s plenty of room for everyone, so tired of the whole “got mine, fsck you” attitude around here. Change is good and fresh blood should be welcome.

Enjoy your abandoned lot I guess, I mean park.

Reality Calling

Bitter sweet. Im happy Landmarks said no to the A. House, but at same time I never liked the landmarking in the first place. BUT, its scary to think if this area wasn’t landmarked, that abomination (or worse) would have sidled in with no way for residents to dispute it.

So, go landmarked area (last time I’ll ever say that).

I still have an issue of placing terra cotta houses in the neighborhood. They simply don’t match our brick edifices.


@ Anonymous No matter where a property owner goes he is going to have neighbors who may or may not like his plans. This builder obviously doesn’t give a plug nickel for the residents here who have repeatedly stated their opposition to his plans. He got the place cheap and is trying to make an outsized profit off it no matter how he has to do it.

This is a low-density residential place. We are not here to support business, business is here to cater to the needs of the community. You want big money? Go to Astoria. Oh, yeah, you can’t buy almost an acre of land on the cheap there.

Celtic Bark

Why does every square inch of land have to be “developed”?

Why not just leave it be and let trees and grass grow as nature intended it? How about some breathing space for the people who already live here before cramming more people in?

Enough of greedy real estate vampires.


Kickstarter? Get real. The old timers talk a great game and have grand plans when it comes to other people’s property. They can’t even support the local restaurant scene.

Dorothy Morehead

The playground not abandoned–it’s warehoused. Ideally, it will remain a playground. However, the owner may re-apply to the Landmarks Commission again to destroy the landmark structure and develop the property.

Patricia Dorfman

Thank you landmarks commission

and herb & liz reynolds, regina and all who coordinated the residents.

and thank you to our elected officials who were outspokenly opposed, van bramer,

gianaris and markey who went to hearing, and to nolan and crowley who also were vocal…cb2 chair joe conley who spoke out firmly

hope the interesting little house gets a nice home, and that we get a park back by some means. kickstarter?

Breath of Fresh Air

Thank goodness that Aluminum Albatross will not be outside my window! I’d like to see the land owned by the community. Make it an extension of Sunnyside Park, one that allows for adults and seniors to be members of the park community. Right now the only people who use that park are parents of small children, which is only one small segment of this community. Parks are for everyone!

Dorothy Morehead

The entire project was flawed from day one. An aluminum structure, no matter its architectural or historical merit, would be inappropriate in the Sunnyside a Gardens Historic District.


It needs to be a small city park Van Bramer Park, whatever.
Since moving here 20 years ago the place has been an abandoned horror set, how long does this take.


Making it a park doesn’t sound so bad if we’re talking about one kids can play in.

Skillman Park is a bit of a walk from that location so if its made into a park for kids to play in that’s less of a walk for parents.

Restore what you can, replace anything that’s too worn to be used safely. Store balls and other park supplies in that shed. The spot that’s sheltered with the table would be a nice place for parents to sit and watch their kids. Maybe even make it a spot for kids to do arts and crafts and some days set aside for those activities. Maybe plant some bushes, grass and flowers inside the fence surrounding the property.

That’s if they mean making it a park by what I’m thinking. Unless they mean for it to just stay as it is. Either way so long as that ugly looking building they wanted to put there isn’t going up. The thing looks more gaudy and out of place as the Storage buildings on 47th ave and near Northern Boulevard.


Great news,so glad Landmarks defeated this proposal and did the right thing for Sunnyside Gardens.

chris christies right hand man

let me get this straight, a 1931 historic house doesn’t “fit” into a 1920s/1930s historic neighborhood…. but the creepy park is ok, everytime i pass the abandoned shack im thinkin jack nickelson will put an axe thru the wall and give me a “here’s Johnny!!”

save the “historic playground” are you freakin serious!!??

I guess its business as usual, if it aint jimmy friend it aint happenin


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