Sept. 13, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
The controversial Phipps Housing development on Barnett Avenue will go before the City Council for the first time next week, as the developer seeks to pass the final hurdle in getting the property rezoned.
The Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will be holding a hearing on the proposed zoning changes at a meeting on September 20th, taking the first of three City Council votes on the matter.
Phipps is seeking the zoning change in order to build a 10-story, 209-unit affordable housing complex on the lot that is currently zoned for manufacturing.
Following the September 20th vote, the zoning change for 50-25 Barnett Avenue will move to the Land Use committee, and then on to the full City Council for a final vote. This comes several weeks after the plan was approved by the City Planning Commission on August 10th.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who has been an outspoken opponent of the project, said he will continue to oppose the development as it moves through the city council votes.
“The proposed Phipps project has too many issues associated with it. As the ULURP process moves forward, I continue to oppose the project, and encourage neighborhood residents to attend the hearing and share their views,” Van Bramer said in a statement.
He said that he will continue to encourage the rest of City Council to vote against the plan as well.
The meeting on September 20 begins at 9:30 a.m. at 250 Broadway in the Committee Room, and it is open to the public. Members of the community are invited to come speak and voice their opinions.
The project has been the center of much controversy, including a public tiff between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Van Bramer, who oversees the district where Phipps hopes to build.
Van Bramer has come out strongly against the project, citing its scale and size, as well as unaffordability, as problems with the proposal. Many other local figures, including Community Board 2 and Borough President Melinda Katz, have stated opposition to the plan for similar reasons.
De Blasio, on the other hand, has said that a proposal offering so much affordable housing is worth passing.
The two exchanged words indirectly through interviews and on Twitter.
“Turning down affordable housing, I can’t follow that. I can’t understand that,” said de Blasio at an unrelated event several weeks ago. “I am going to have a polite but firm conversation with the councilman, who I know very well and respect greatly,” he added.
Van Bramer fired back on Twitter, “And he will be met with a polite and even firmer response.”
Since those comments Van Bramer and de Blasio have met with one another, and though the drama has passed, both maintain their original beliefs, according to Van Bramer’s office.