From Sunnyside Post:
The plans to develop a site within the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District were greeted with skepticism by Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee last night.
The architects provided details on the developer’s proposal to construct an aluminaire house – made of metal – and eight accompanying residential units for the first time.
The development would take place on the corner of 39th Avenue and 50th Street, at the site of the historic Phipps playground. The Phipps sold the property in July 2007 to DBH Associates for $1.43 million.
The proposed residential units—which would be contained within one building– would be clad with terracotta-colored panels, with a brick pattern.
About 50 residents turned out for the committee meeting—many holding leaflets that read: “Say ‘No’ to unwanted development in our Community!” Meanwhile, a letter was circulating that had been written by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer to the Landmarks Preservation Committee voicing his opposition to it.
Many residents questioned whether any type of development could take place on the property. Dorothy Morehead, who is a member of community board 2 and owns a real estate firm in the Gardens, said that the former playground is deemed “open space.” She said that she has never heard of a case where the Landmarks committee has permitted development on “open space”.
The house would essentially be a showpiece or a museum where people could visit. The Aluminaire Foundation, he said, would be leasing space on the site from the developer to keep it there.
The housing units—which would bring income to the developer through rent or condo sales—would act as a buffer between the aluminaire house and the historic brick homes in Sunnyside Gardens.
But Stephen Cooper, Co-Chair of the Land Use Committee, suggested that the aluminaire house – and accompanying units—were not a good fit for the Historic District. “The buildings [in the Gardens] are all essentially the same. They are brick, all two stories tall—essentially all the same look,” he said. “There is not a single aluminum house in the area.”