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Phipps Houses Drops Bid for Affordable Sunnyside Building

By Jeanmarie Evelly | September 20, 2016 10:32am
 The City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the plan for 209 affordable units on Barnett Avenue.
Phipps Houses Renderings
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SUNNYSIDE — The developer behind a controversial plan to build a 209-unit all-affordable building on Barnett Avenue has dropped an application to get permission to build, according to City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer who'd vowed to oppose it.

Phipps Houses withdrew its land use application for the seven to 10-story building at 50-25 Barnett Ave., Van Bramer said Monday — just a day before the City Council's zoning subcommittee was slated to hold a hearing on it.

The item was pulled from the subcommittee's meeting agenda early Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear if the developer — which applied for a zoning change to build housing on the block that's currently zoned for manufacturing — would be amending its plans for the site or if it's been scrapped entirely.

A spokeswoman for Phipps Houses, a longtime affordable housing developer that's owned the Barnett Avenue lot since the 1950s and also operates the Phipps Garden Apartments across the street, declined to comment Tuesday.

While the City Planning Commission approved the plan last month, the project has been met with a swell of criticism from residents and local leaders who say it's too big and would strain local infrastructure.

RELATED: City Planning Approves Controversial Plan for Affordable Sunnyside Building
RELATED: Board Votes Down Controversial Affordable Building Proposed for Sunnyside

Van Bramer, who has said he would vote against the proposal, said the developer's decision to withdraw its current application is a "welcome" one.

"I'll continue to speak with all parties concerned making sure that the voices and concerns of my constituents are paramount as we discuss the future of this community," he said in a statement.

The project, first introduced last year, would build 209 affordable apartments on what's now a parking lot on Barnett Avenue between 50th and 52nd streets.

The units would have been reserved for households making 50, 100 and 130 percent of the area median income (AMI).


Mayor Bill de Blasio supported the plan.

"Let's not mince words: this is bad for our city and for working families struggling to pay their rent," de Blasio spokeswoman Melissa Grace said in a statement Tuesday.

"No community, certainly not one with 7,000 people wait-listed for affordable housing, should lose a development like this."

The City Planning Commission did not immediately return a request for comment.