Wednesday, March 10, 2021

A "real affordable housing" conundrum develops in Sunnyside

LIC Post

Four years ago, Phipps Houses withdrew their application to build an affordable housing complex in my Sunnyside neighborhood after I had come out against it.

It was a project that the community board voted against and which faced significant community opposition. I too was opposed, but not because I didn’t want to see affordable housing built here.

As I said then, my opposition focused on four key issues:

1) Phipps’ unwillingness to commit to good jobs, paying good wages, offering real benefits. I have always and will always stand for good union jobs.

2) The “affordable” apartments weren’t truly affordable – income levels were too high.

3) The existing tenants living in the Phipps Garden Apartments across the street complained of serious maintenance issues.

4) The new building would be nearly twice the height of the building across the street

Those were real issues and real concerns. And I wish Phipps had been able to address them then.

They weren’t.

But Phipps maintained ownership of the property, currently a large parking lot. They revised their proposal and came back to me and the community with it.

Some of the same voices opposed to the project four years ago are once again demanding that I block it. They say it’s the same project, with the same flaws, and if I opposed it four years ago, I should do so again. But this is a different, and much improved proposal. Here’s why:

Phipps has changed their tune to hiring and now offers good jobs widely, including both in this newly proposed development and the Phipps Garden Apartments. The affordability levels have been lowered dramatically, with 20% of the units at 40% AMI and the highest income band at 80%. We have never seen such levels of affordability in this area.

 Phipps is also one of the worst slumlords in the World's Borough. Something Jimmy is willing to overlook to pander for the votes of the rent-burdened. 

Here's another thing Jimmy overlooked.

LIC Post

The fashion shoe company Steve Madden is threatening to leave Sunnyside if the seven story, 167-unit building development planned by Phipps Houses on Barnett Avenue goes up.

Steve Madden, which penned a letter to Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer Jan. 14, said that it employs more than 400 people at its 52-16 Barnett Ave. location and it would be forced to relocate if the Phipps development moves forward.

The company says that it rents 120 spaces on the 220-space parking lot where the development is proposed to go. The spaces are used by its personnel and are rented from Phipps. Without the parking spaces for employees, it says it would have to leave.

“Without the public parking lot, Madden will have no reasonable way to maintain its Barnett Avenue presence,” the letter reads.

The letter also notes that its employees help bolster the local economy by patronizing local merchants and eateries.

“In short, Madden and its employees provide substantial economic support for the local community and its retail businesses,” the letter reads.

Phipps needs to get its Barnett Avenue property rezoned in order to develop the site. The application currently rests in the hands of the City Council, having been approved by Community Board 2, the Queens Borough President and the City Planning Commission.

Van Bramer issued a public statement today announcing his support for the project, citing the need for affordable and low-cost housing. He did not address Steve Madden’s concerns in his statement and did not comment for this story.

Steve Madden, however, has done little in the way of outreach to make its concerns known other than the solitary letter to Van Bramer. It did not reach out to Community Board 2 nor did it speak to Queens Borough President Donovan Richards or the City Planning Commission.

The Jan. 14 letter to Van Bramer was also not released publicly but surfaced on social media via the Facebook page Small Town Confidential.

The Queens Post called the attorney representing Steve Madden whose name appeared on the letter. The attorney–Andrew Luskin, of the firm McLaughlin & Stern–confirmed that he wrote it and said the issue was real.


Anonymous said...

Let's make it easy.

Affordable=Mega corruption

georgetheatheist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
georgetheatheist said...

Fossil fuels still rule. Steve Madden employees need their cars not bicycles.

Unknown said...

We should be demolishing blighted housing to build more parking lots, not demolishing parking lots to build more overbuilt "affordable" housing. Spread out, people.

Anonymous said...

"Get back in your chains wage slave"-Democrats

Anonymous said...

But remember to vote blue no matter who, leftoids!

Anonymous said...

All Blue, Federal, State and City, What's the problem ?
The demorats have never been in favor of upward mobility.

Anonymous said...

"Affordable=Mega corruption" YES !

Nancy Gorbachev, tear down the DC Wall !

Anonymous said...

Democrats are insane! They do the same thing over and over again hoping for a different outcome.

Anonymous said...

How much did the developers contribute to Jimmy’s run for boro prez?
There goes the neighborhood

Anonymous said...

This is why Queens Crap and independent journalism is important and on the rise !
NYC government is ripping us off with Taxes and fees to give it to others with political connections.
The Huffington Post Lays Off 45 People, The Rise of New Tech will crush the worthless Lame Stream Media.
Poor HuffPo indoctrinated babies, they won't be able to cover us all with their left-wing sputum. What a shame. Maybe they should learn to code.

Anonymous said...

The demorats need to be investigated to see if they have any ties to America.

Anonymous said...

The Huffington Post Lays Off 45 People

You see, they outlived their usefulness. Elections are over, HR1 was passed in the House, so no need for them. Commies do eat their own!

Anonymous said...

Dead beat COVID-19 Scam !
Still want to be a landlord in NYC ? Think again...