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Phipps’ Barnett Avenue Proposal is Dead, Van Bramer Notified by Developer

MHG Architects

MHG Architects

September 19, By Christian Murray

Phipps Houses has withdrawn its Barnett Avenue development proposal and the 10-story, 209-unit affordable housing complex that many Sunnyside residents feared is now dead.

Phipps was expected to go before the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises tomorrow as part of the process of getting the property rezoned from manufacturing to residential. However, Phipps notified Councilman Van Bramer this morning that it was pulling its controversial plan.

“It was clear that they didn’t have my support and would lose in the city council,” Van Bramer said. “Given the inevitability of it all they decided to withdraw it and I thank them for that.”

Phipps has yet to provide a reason as to why it withdrew its plans for the site, which is located at 50-24 Barnett Avenue. Adam Weinstein, the president of Phipps, told the Sunnyside Post this afternoon that he did not have time to talk about it when called.

Councilman Van Bramer, Adam Weinstein of Phipps

Councilman Van Bramer, Adam Weinstein of Phipps

The project had the backing of the City Planning Commission, which approved it on August 10th. Mayor Bill de Blasio also supported it.

But the neighborhood largely resented the plan and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Community Board 2 and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz opposed it. A petition against it generated more than 2,000 signatures.

“The proposed Phipps project had too many issues associated with it,” Van Bramer said several times as the lengthy rezoning process played out.

Van Bramer came out strongly against the project, citing its large scale and size, as well as its unaffordability.

Van Bramer said the whole process has been a difficult one and “people’s chiming in was not helpful here,” a reference to the mayor who pushed for it.

The project led to a public tiff between de Blasio and Van Bramer.

The two exchanged words indirectly through press 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.”

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49 Comments

Lenny Salek

Phipps threw out the previous parking lot operator and gave the lot to one of the big NYC lot operators. The lot which had been well cared for by the excellent previous manager is now a weed covered garbage strewn eyesore. Thanks Phipps.




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Anonymous

I think they should limit peoples posts . Im sick of these know it alls that have 20 paragraph posts or someone who has to print out every statistic ever. Get to the point and get off.




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Patricia Dorfman

WHO SUFFERS LONG TERM IF BARNETT APPROVED: Displaced residents and current small businesses who unless they own their buildings, will be priced out of gentrified Sunnyside Woodside. Rent on Greenpoint pizzeria informed sources allege, went up to $15,000 which effectively ousts the business, which had sunk over 100 thou into redo. if that happens on greenpoint, imagine what is going to happen to skillman ave if barnett gets luxury condos like dominoes after rezoning, on this unaffordable “100% affordable housing”…
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“Stealing Queens
Op Ed by Patricia Dorfman

The drumbeat of media bullying continues against Jimmy Van Bramer, for standing up for his district. Phipps blinked yesterday [withdrawing proposal], or perhaps just rethought the branding downside of TV news featuring 150 locals with anti-Phipps posters roaming City Hall. But a renewed media attack revealed the respite is temporary. We should expect a new gambit shortly to remove the right of the people of Queens to have a say in in the divvying up of Queens for the profit of large interests who live elsewhere, even if cloaked as “100% affordable.”
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Tuesday’s media assault came from the Observer, who observed JVB’s “ugly display of NIMBYism” (same term used in the Daily News). They further observed that when JVB “finally met” with Phipps, one of the “most respected social service agencies in NY,” (possibly not for long), Van Bramer’s reasons for opposing the project were “laughable” and a “smokescreen.” They do not mention that the borough president, community board, which includes a professional housing advocate as land use chair, also became opposed after months of work and suggestions, with no change from the original proposal.
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The disproportionate attacks against JVB must be because billlions are at stake for those who may have hoped to use 50-25 Barnett as a precedent zoning change from light manufacturing to residential (read high-rise luxury condos). One assumes the prize is the land surrounding and in Sunnyside Yards. Hitting a snag, they let loose their media counterparts to savage JVB – if not to change his mind, at least to wound him politically and show what is in store for other councilmembers who dare participate in democracy.
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The over-the-top blitz helps Van Bramer, and makes little sense. NIMBYism implies we want to bar people who might lower our property values. If anything, we are opposing Phipps for attempting to drive up our property values and cost of living.
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If Barnett and beyond become a string of condos, where will displaced small businesses and renters go? StreetEasy.com finds “the typical household in New York City is expected to spend 65.2 percent of its total income on market-rate rent in 2016.”
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The objection heard most often here in opposition to 50-25 Barnett, was unaffordability, set by the government [HUD] area median income figures – 42 apartments for people earning between $32,000 to $44,000, 62 apartments for $50,000 to $115,000 earners, and 104 apartments for $75,000 to $150,000.
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The objection following closely was the parking nightmare of a net loss of 124 spots plus a loss of street parking. Add in the large, prison-like design which even Phipps provided a slide to show it would be out of sight from the corner, the non-union construction (despite promises made to the unions when Mandatory Inclusionary Housing was passed), and the already overburdened infrastructure with no nearby public parks, antique sewers, few schools, and public transit already jammed.
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It certainly did not help Phipps that the residents across the street, whose building is run by Phipps, which pays no taxes as a non-profit, said their building was neglected and in eternal disrepair, and that they were treated with disrespect.
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While big developers, the administration, and some in the press apparently spent their weekends figuring out ways to separate us from common sense, many of us were busy trying to get more of it at “Jobs, Homes & ‘Hoods: We’re Staying in Queens” on Sunday in Sunnyside. Due to space limitations here, coverage of that event will appear next week. All are welcome to the next meeting (email [email protected], #Queens4Queens) Sun, October 30, 3pm, Woodside on the Move, 39-45 59th St., 2nd floor, Woodside.”

(author is Exec. Dir. of Sunnyside Chamber)




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Scatophobe

The problem was the lack of infrastructure. It is impossible to park in Sunnyside and yet it would have put 200 more cars on the streets. The sewers are backing up in our basements and backyards and then the caca of 500 people would have piled up on top of it. The 7 train at rush hours is a sweatbtank and it would have gotté even worse.

I am rather for developing over the yards, with the buildings’ lower floors dedicated to parking, a tram line running from Woodside to Queensboro Plaza or even sharing the existing tunnels to Penn Station or soon Grand Central, additional sewer lines going under the new buildings to a cleanning plant… I have a dream.




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Anonymous

I also agree with the complaint about the taxis parking on the streets. They make money with the vehicle so it should be considered commercial. I cant leave my truck in the street or i get ticketed,why do all these taxis get to park overnight? I counted 7 green cabs and 4 uber the other day on 43st between 50th ave and 48ave .then i saw a cab driver double parked and a woman came out who was taking up 2 spots so the taxi could park. This is nonsense.




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Anonymous

You don’t live on any of those blocks do you? It isn/’t the sight of it. How ridiculous of you to thin/k so. Stupid really.

It is the fact that anywhere from three to eight hundred more people would be conducting their lives up against those tracks. All that action/ will take place on/ the south side of the tracks. And it would create waves of activity night and day on the streets and sidewalks of those residential blocks on Barnett. They would no longer be quiet and the world world of everyone living there would never be quiet and peaceful again. People move to a place because they like the atmosphere. They don’t want the atmosphere to change drastically. They don’t like their lives overturned for some distant ideal. That is a fact of life that escapes you.

You seem well suited to straight mathematical analysis. For everything else,
get in the backseat.

You should embrace their plan for continued peace and quiet.




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Dietmar Detering

Out of proportion? I don’t get. All the views of the now-cancelled plans are from Barnett near 48th or 50th ST – hardly anyone currently walks there, and no one lives there. Other than 1) pedestrians on Barnett, 2) visitors of Sunnyside Gardens Park and 3) the people living directly across from the site in the Phipps Garden Apartments, very few people would have been able to get even a glimpse of the new Building. Instead, it would have hidden behind other buildings, mostly Phipps Garden Apartments, for anyone in Sunnyside at street level – even with the proposed size. It’s Trigonometry! Any one saying the building is out of proportion needs to show the visuals to prove what he means and that it matters at all.

I further believe that the Garden Apartment residents directly across from the site in particular should have embraced the plans:
– They would have received a highly effective sound barrier between them and the noisy LIRR tracks.
– Their apartments would have faced an attractive building and an upgraded street with more trees instead of the busy tracks and that bare-bones parking lot.

What’s not to like (other than the construction phase, of course)? Plus: The cancelled building would barely have taken any light from public streets and neighboring buildings – it’s shadow would have fallen on it’s side or onto the tracks running on it’s North side.

All in all a loss for people suffering from high housing costs in the neighborhood and the city, and a lost opportunity to get something fairly good out of that lot. Now let’s brace ourselves for the obscenity that can be put there out of right (hotel, or storage, for example).




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ann

Great news! The project was huge and totally out of scale with the neighborhood. The developer made no effort to compromise and scale it down. No thought was given to already over-crowded infrastructure, like schools and the 7 subway. This was not a contest between ‘affordable housing’ (which most of the apartments were NOT, by the way) and the neighborhood, but a contest to preserve what is good about a neighborhood vs. ugly development.




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Zinsu

Good. If Phipps wants to build something more on scale with the surrounding area, that’s cool with me.




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Up up and away

Everybody complains about parking, some developer should build a parking garage for cars and charge a licensing fee to purchase the spot , then every month a reasonable maintenance fee like a condo ,say for example $150.00




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Anonymous

They are about to knock down a parking garage which no one has operated as a garage for years. It is either 2 or 3 stories and takes up a big piece of the triangular lot on 48th between Barnett and 39th Avenues. Some mom pushed JVB into it cause she wants her kids to be able to walk to middle school! close. But she lives six blocks away. Our parking for her school, sure! She keeps her parking.




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OldenDays

don’t blame this on the “mom.” if that building was going to come back as a garage it would have done so by now. actually, if it was gonna come back as ANY business, it had plenty of time to do that. but it wasn’t — it was gonna be some kind of condo building.




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Anonymous

Residential permit parking is a good idea. It works in Jersey City where all street parking would be taken over by people driving to the PATH from elsewhere otherwise. It would work here for the same reason since we’re overrun by TLC overnight parkers and Maspeth Glendale daytime parkers. TLC and NYC taxis should be parked in commercial lots. This is what this board and neighborhood needs. Good forward thinking ideas and not just negativity.




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Gardens Watcher

As predicted, this was a test of JVB’s leadership. And he passed with flying colors! Time for Phil & the other Debbie Downers on this story to give JVB some credit.




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Anonymous

Because he will lose his job representing the people of this district if he doesn’t. That’s why.




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Stick to your guns

Good job jvb. Keep up the good work. Now everyone who called you a sellout can apologize. But somehow i doubt they will.




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Angela II

Phipps is now filing paperwork to build side by side 6 story hotels there now with the knowledge that the city will buy & take them over to convert to homeless shelters.
Save our Sunnyside!




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OldenDays

i know this is a joke but i would not be surprised if they did something like this just to spite us. i doubt they’re making much money with a ground-level parking lot. they own the property outright and they can do far worse things with it than building affordable housing. depending on the zoning, they won’t even need anyone’s approval to build hotels or whatever.

personally i hope they are going back to their architects and coming up with plans for a 4 or 6 story building, which they should have done in the first place.




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Anonymous

Why would they waste the money and effort? There has never been anything new in sunnyside that gets the support of commenters here. Seriously. You guys hate everything. Chain stores, local entrepreneurs, any new building, schools, Latin businesses, Korean businesses, schools. They should build manufacturing because that’s what it’s zoned and you can just live with whatever they decide to build. You’ll hate it probably more than the 10 story building.




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sartke

Van Bramer’s definitely lost my support. I’m sure he’s smart enough to know that developing housing in Western Queens is a good idea for the city, but has no spine and can’t stand up to the local NIMBY voters.

Now we get to enjoy beautiful Barnett Avenue in its current state for another 20 years.




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Anonymous

Don’t be such a sad sack. You’ll see. Adam Weinstein will make sure to sell it to someone who will build a homeless shelter just to get back at those who wanted him to listen to them..




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Mac

-sartke When you buy property you could let developers undermine your neighborhood and your property value. You sound like a niave fool who doesn’t understand the reason behind zoning laws and relationship between infrastructure and quality of life standards.




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sartke

The city of New York doesn’t have a responsibility to ensure that your property value continues to skyrocket every year, it has a responsibility to ensure that its citizens have a place to live.

Everyone here saying “I’m totally for affordable housing…just not here…somewhere else…” is full of crap. Just own up to having political views based on nothing but pure self-interest.




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Mac

@satrke Where exactly in the city charter does it say the city is responsible to ensure it’s citizens have a place to live? As I said when you finally ante up and get some skin in the game and invest in property, you could grant someone the right to destroy and undermine your investment and destroy your families quality of life. Everyone has self interest, everyone. That’s all part of the Democratic process. Get informed imbecile.




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Anonymous

People who are lifelong renters have all their skin in the game. You are deluded if you think people are just holding back. And there is something in the city rules that say every human being has the right to shelter from the elements. Maybe not a right to a mansion in the sky, but shelter from the elements. That is what civilized people do.




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sartke

Might want to invest in some spell-check software before you start calling other people imbeciles.

Renters are a majority of NYC residents. Whether you like it or not, that means they also get to be involved in ‘the democratic process.’

Anyway, anyone acting like a new apartment building in Sunnyside is going to ‘undermine their investment’ just isn’t a very deep thinker. Increasing the density of Western Queens is going to help turn it into the next Brooklyn, which is going to attract a lot real money and rich people – the types of people who would never consider living in Queens right now.

Maybe that’s not what you want the neighborhood to be, but if your goal is to get rich off your property investment, ensuring that the view from your window is abandoned lots and train tracks for another 2 decades isn’t actually the sharpest strategy.




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Tired of idiots that don't understand the role of Gov't

Sartke,

Really? “The city of New York … has a responsibility to ensure that its citizens have a place to live.” I wasn’t aware of that law. I think you might be confusing Constitutionalism with Marxism. The USA is not a Marxist state (Yet), though it is clear that we are moving towards that goal of the left as exemplified by the current NYC mayor.




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Anonymous

It’s zoned manufacturing. They should build a factory on it. Maybe a recycling center. Nothing Van Bramer or you could do about it. You shot down a positive zoning change. Is it even legitimate for them to operate a manufacturing zone as nothing but a parking lot? I’ll have to look into that. That might need to be challenged so they’ll be forced to sell or build manufacturing to profit from the land.




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Happy Camper

It would make a nice site for a Go Cart track and Custom Parts Manufacturing business. Kids would love it!




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Sonny

7 out of 10 parking spots are now taken by green/yellow/black cabs Why They are not considered commercial vehicles?? Not our moron mayors problem he get driven around by his security team till his term -ends Which not doubt will be at the end of his 1st term IF HE IS NOT IN JAIL BY THEN




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Happy Camper

Commercial vehicles aren’t permitted to park overnight on City Streets. They can be ticketed if the Police choose to enforce the laws.




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Sonny

Barnett Ave would not be a good location for a 2 hundred unit Apt building . Usually there are 8 cars lined up to make turns at either end of Barnett Ave – I don’t think children in Sunnyside Park really need to be breathing in the CO from idling cars. This new building would turn the area bounded by 48 St,Woodside Ave, Barmett Ave and Skillman Ave into a virtual parking lot. Seven out of ten cars are either “non commercial ” green,yellow or black livery cabs- why are these cabs allowed to park on city streets? Originally the plans called for the new building to have 200 parking spots but we’re revised to only have 101 spots. With the new Phipps Mgmt. you are assured of plenty of other surprises.




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Anonymous

You do realize that this is a walkable neighborhood with excellent transit access, and is 20 minutes away from the largest office district in the world? There aren’t going to be 200 drivers in a 200 unit building, and most that will drive will do so for recreation only. It’s shocking how many of you think you live out on Long Island. Go check out Center Blvd in LIC. There are over 3,000 units all right next to each other and there is barely any traffic at all.




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Mac

I’m glad to hear it as is everyone else on my block. Ten stories was way too big to the point of being absurd.




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Neighbor

This is a good thing. I am not against affordable housing, but this was not a good place for a large building.




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