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Phipps Houses’ 220-unit Project Officially In Gear, Plans Certified

MHG Architects

MHG Architects

March 29, 2016 By Christian Murray

Controversial plans to build a 10-story, 220-unit building at 50-25 Barnett Ave. are officially in motion, with the developer Phipps Houses kicking off its rezoning application yesterday.

Phipps is seeking a zoning change in order to build on the site, which only permits the property to be used for manufacturing purposes or as a community facility. The non-profit developer certified its project with the Department of City Planning yesterday – the first step in that process – according to City documents.

“We are happy that the project is certified since the land use process now begins,” said Adam Weinstein, chief executive of Phipps Houses. “We look forward to the back and forth with the community.”

“The plan has not changed since it was presented to the public at a meeting in October,” Weinstein said. “We have heard comments and some of those will be addressed during the land use process and others we will not be able to,” he added.

With certification, Community Board 2 has 60 days to weigh in on the plans. The Board’s decision is merely advisory.

As part of the rezoning process, the project will also go before the Queens Borough President who will provide an advisory opinion, before moving to the Department of City Planning and the City Council.

DCP and the Council both have the power to block it.

The City Council’s decision will be essentially determined by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, since it is Council protocol for members to follow the recommendation of the local representative.

Van Bramer has stated that he has “concerns” about the project. He could not be reached for comment by press time.

Phipps’ plan was panned by many residents when it became public in June. The criticism dealt largely with the scale of the proposed building and how it could lead to parking and other infrastructure problems.

In October, to quell some of those fears, Weinstein held a joint meeting with Van Bramer and CB 2 in Sunnyside.

Van Bramer at that meeting said he had received 1,000 signatures in opposition to the project.

The certified plans call for the construction of 220 units, with room for 101 parking spots. There will be a 4,800-square-foot pre-K on the ground floor. Weinstein, however, said today that Phipps will be building 200 parking spaces.

He said all the apartments would be affordable, which was defined as:

20 percent of the units would be for those earning $28,000 to $44,000; 30 percent would be for those earning $50,000 to $115,000; 50 percent would be for those earning $75,000 to $150,000.

CB 2 chair Pat O’Brien said that the Board has had several discussions with Phipps since the October meeting and that it had asked the developer to see if the height could be lowered or senior housing included.

O’Brien said that Phipps has examined these requests but has not made any changes.

CB 2 has not come to any decision on the matter, O’Brien said, noting that it has only just been certified.

O’Brien added that he was disappointed that he was cited in YIMBY as a supporter of the project. He said that he did not even speak to the reporter and didn’t know where that view came from. He said it is CB 2 protocol for him to speak for the Board, not for himself.

Phipps Certification by Queens Post

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Too many cars, not enough trains.
Do we need more housing?
Tough. But is not just Sunnyside. Billions should be spent on infrastructure.


This area needs to remain a parking lot. Please Jimmy Van Bramer and CB2 stop the rezoning, You have heard the community members loud and clear in October.


hopefully the overcharged tenants will go to the E,W,R trains instead of the 7. that’s all i care about.


How does the neighborhood go south with the addition of this project? It’s basically in the boonies of Sunnyside, almost in Woodside, and on the border of Long Island City. I wouldn’t be caught after 8pm at night walking around here

There is nothing back here on this block besides a parking lot.

You can’t just complain and come with no solutions. If you’re so concerned then address this head on.


Yeah I saw their site. Pretty negative stuff. One of their articles says that they tried to FOIL the application even though it’s been on the community boards website for months


Queens Anti-Gentrification Project is a joke, has no legitimacy; it would be nice one day to see an organization be for something, instead of always against something. How does building more housing in of it self lead to gentrification. What a sad state of affairs Dee Ray


This is going to happen. It’s just a matter of time. On the plus side, the quiet sketchy Barnett will have people and activity. This is good. Also, maybe finally the old pool hall, and the shady bar that closed down will now have activity.
I have lived in this neighborhood over half my life…. vacant industrial buildings and parking lots do nothing for the neighborhood. We just need to hold our politicians accountable and the infrastructure (schools/mass transit) needs upgrading.


“Affordable housing”. It’ll be a failure and a scam just like the Hunters Point South project was last year.

Jimmy "da wrekinball" Van Bramer

“Van Bramer has stated that he has ‘concerns’ about the project. He could not be reached for comment by press time.” Right. Of course he wasn’t available. This project will happen. Mark my words. Van Bramer will watch it slide on through. Just like the demolition of 5Pointz and so much other development against the betterment of the community, and for the betterment of the developers, and likely his pockets! A real progressive, this guy! Gee, I wonder who he supports for the democratic nomination!


JVB does not take money. Whatever political deals he has to make, as they all do, he does not enrich himself from dishonest developers. Phipps in Sunnyside has slowly slid downhill over the past few decades. They can’t even handle a growing rodent problem. Maybe they are good builders, but they are stinky managers. They used to be the best, but no more.

A couple thoughts

Nice, residential buildings are an improvement over empty unused manufacturing spaces and parking lots. I would certainly feel more comfortable walking down Skillman or Barnett at night if more of the old manufacturing zones were re-zoned for residential. Sunnyside is a wonderful neighborhood and expanding it to some of the more industrial-looking areas next to the rail yards and even along Queens Boulevard in the 30’s would benefit the neighborhood. While yes we need more schools and the 7 train needs serious help, more people living in the area can also mean more cafes, bars, restaurants, shops, and cultural attractions. Building low-rise homes like the Sunnyside Gardens ones and making them affordable to first-time home buyers would be nice as well.


Riverfront park and wildlife habitat, recreational use for residents of the neighborhood. Go into Manhattan and look at Phipps Houses on Second Avenue and 28th Street. These are not resident friendly good for the community developers.


This thing needs to be drastically scaled down. Keep the 200 parking spots to replace the ones that were lost to the project. The local infrastructure is already over taxed. If they continue to just build apartments adding hundreds then thousands of people to the area it will become a less then desirable area to live. It’s already developed a reputation for an area with lousy over crowded and unreliable transportation.

Gardens Watcher

I agree with David. What a total disregard for community concerns and input. Think this is bad? Watch what happens to the Sunnyside rail yards.

holden c

Just ignore the concerns of the residents. The concerns weren’t completely unreasonable. Some are opposed to it completely; others see ways it could work. But just dismiss them outright? Why even bother having a public forum? Phonies.


What neighborhood? There’s nothing back here. It’s on the back side of another Phipps housing complex.
Maybe this new development will drive all of the rats and cockroaches out of the other one.

There’s a commercial plaza here. That’s it.
Don’t act as if it’s going into the middle of Sunnyside

I didn’t see anyone griping and protesting the hideous multi colored brick development that went up recently?????
What an eyesore


I don’t think this is too tall at all. The building opposite this one is already 6 stories, the additional 4 stories of this new build won’t look too bad. It’s not like it’s being put in the middle of sunnyside gardens between single family homes. I think the placement will mean the additional height is not noticed as much as everyone is making out. This will improve the neighborhood and will look a lot nicer than the parking lot that is currently at that location.


the sunnyside apartment complex has 4 story portions that directly face the proposed site but there are also 6 story portions that are part of the apartment complex.


Gads, it’s just too tall. I’m not against new housing at all, but why can’t they build something that makes sense in the context of the surrounding low-rise neighborhood?


Well, at least it’s not a ridiculous high rise overtaking the entire skyline while remaining mostly uninhabited…

Anonymous visitor

What are you talking about. It is 9 story high. Most of the buildings in Sunnyside are 6 floor high.

Belfast Babe

I was under the assumption that the buildings in the area couldn’t be higher than 6 stories because it’s in the flight plan to and from LaGuardia Airport. is that true.

Kramden's Delicious Marshall

What good are zoning laws if they can be changed at a developer’s whim?


this nation is controlled by corporations that lobby/bribe political figures to pass these laws that only benefit them. its not like this is the first time this has happened. massive profit above all else is the rule of thumb.


It’s only been certified. It hasn’t been approved. Time to get JVB to stop this one. It’s unnecessary.


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