BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
The Queens Tribune, who has been following Phipps Houses’ proposal for The Barnett, a 10-story, 209-unit affordable housing development on 50-25 Barnett Ave. in Sunnyside, since early May, has learned that the project is still moving forward despite local opposition, including from Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
Although the project has received support from Mayor Bill de Blasio, it was voted down by Van Bramer, Borough President Melinda Katz and Community Board 2.
Earlier this month, the Daily News released an editorial on the topic, saying “Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, a progressive stalwart, is vowing to block affordable housing slated for the area’s fringe.”
After stating Van Bramer’s reasoning for opposing the project, they concluded with, “spin all the councilman wants, he is guilty of NIMBYism that would deny desperately needed homes to working families.”
When the Queens Tribune asked Van Bramer about the editorial he said, “I’m dismayed that the Daily News would disparage our community with allegations of hypocrisy and NIMBY-ism. We have clearly supported numerous affordable housing projects in Western Queens, but not every project is right for every site. The Daily News Editorial Board conveniently left out a number of facts: that union labor would not be used to staff or build the development, that Phipps made no changes to the plan in response to community opposition, and that the Community Board, the Borough President and the local Assembly Member all oppose the project.”
“In fact,” he added, “the Community Board explicitly asked for my opinion on the project before they voted. I have consistently supported building additional affordable housing in Western Queens and across the city, but given all of the problems with this project, I simply could not support it.”
A spokesperson from Phipps Houses said, “The Queens Borough President provided serious, constructive comments which we are thinking about carefully. We appreciate the feedback we’ve received from the community so far and will decide which modifications we can reasonably accommodate as part of the City Council’s review of the project. We remain hopeful that we can work alongside Council Member Van Bramer to address the genuine affordability crisis faced by so many in Sunnyside and its surrounding neighborhoods.
The City Planning Commission will vote on August 10.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org