BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Phipps Houses, owners of Phipps Garden Apartments (built in 1931), is proposing a 10-story, 209-unit affordable housing development on 50-25 Barnett Ave. in Sunnyside, across the street from Phipps Garden Apartments.
The site, currently a 223-space parking lot, is in between the Long Island Railroad, Barnett Avenue and 50th and 52nd Street.
Because it’s so close to the railroad, the parking lot is zoned for low-density manufacturing and commercial uses, which is why the rezoning allows a mixed-used residential and commercial development without a height limit.
The project will be developed under the Housing Preservation and Development’s Mixed Middle Income Program, providing 100 percent mixed-income affordable housing in a new community facility space.
The proposed rents at The Barnett are lower than street rent today in Sunnyside. These rents will presumably remain affordable over time, providing a stable source of affordable housing in Sunnyside for decades.
About 20 percent of the units will be reserved for households making less than 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) or those making $28,000 to $44,000 annually, 30 percent of units will be set aside for households earning 100 percent AMI or those making $51,000 to $117,000, and a maximum of 50 percent will be rented out to households earning up to 130 percent AMI or those making $67,000 to $148,000 (typically a two income household).
According to a printed PowerPoint Phipps Houses provided to the Queens Tribune, the rents for each of the income levels are below market rent in the neighborhood.
The project will also include a 200-space attended parking lot, with only half of the spaces assumed to be used by residents. The Pre-Zoning for Quality and Affordability would have required only 40-50 percent parking per unit; however, Phipps is increasing the parking from old rules to nearly 1-1. Phipps Houses anticipates that unused spaces will be available to neighborhood residents.
The development is designed so that the highest point of the building is set the farthest back from the sidewalk, creating an improved pedestrian experience and helping to put the building in context with the surrounding area. On Barnett Avenue, the building is seven to eight stories tall and in the rear, the building rises nine to 10 stories tall.
A 15-foot wide sidewalk will be constructed on Barnett Avenue, with streetscape and landscape improvements, including two rows of trees and plantings.
The Barnett will provide approximately 4,000 square feet of new community facility space with the programing being left to the community’s input to decide.
Because The Barnett is sustainably designed to Enterprise Green Communities and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Standards, the building will feature energy efficient heating, solar power and green roofs.
A public hearing took place on May 18 so that residents of Sunnyside and Community Board 2 members could express their concerns about the proposed development. Following the hearing, CEO and president of Phipps Houses, Adam Weinstein said that Phipps houses is listening carefully to everyone’s comments and will make every effort to incorporate the community’s feedback as they move through ULURP while maintaining a feasible project.
The next step in the ULURP process will occur June 2, where CB 2 will vote on the proposed project. Following the CB 2 vote is Borough President Melinda Katz’s recommendation and lastly, a City Council vote to determine whether or not Phipps can move forward with the project.
Phipps Houses, which has built more than 8,000 affordable homes for low and moderate-income families, is New York City’s oldest and largest not-for-profit developer, owner and manager of affordable housing. Through its social service affiliate, Phipps serves more than 10,000 children, youth and families annually through its educational and career programs, while enhancing access to community resources in low-income neighborhoods.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org