In midst of a battle over an affordable housing proposal by the nonprofit developer Phipps Neighborhoods, State Senator Michael Gianaris is calling on the group to better maintain the Phipps Garden Apartments in Sunnyside.
Gianaris recently visited the 39th Avenue building with tenants. According to the senator, he witnessed infestations with bugs and vermin, mold from water damage and general failure to upkeep property.
According to the housing advocacy data aggregator JustFix.nyc, the property has dozens of open violations with HPD. Phipps Gardens Apartments has 472 mostly rent-stabilized apartments.
While Phipps is still seeking approval of their new development, Gianaris said the approval would be “troubling” without confidence that they can maintain their properties.
“These tenants deserve a better quality of life, and we must hold their corporate landlords accountable for failing to deliver,” Gianaris said. “Phipps Houses must respond to the needs of their Sunnyside tenants and clean up this property”
Here’s his full letter to Adam Weinstein, CEO of Phipps, dated November 30:
Dear Mr. Weinstein,
I write with serious concerns about the condition of Phipps Garden Apartments on 39th Avenue in Sunnyside. Tenants have contacted me numerous times about the lack of routine maintenance at the property. After personally visiting the building and meeting with tenants this past week, I must agree that conditions at this property are uninhabitable for hundreds of rent-paying tenants who live there.
Upon my visit, I was greeted by residents who shared evidence of problems associated with inattention and lack of adequate maintenance staff. I witnessed vermin, bedbug, and roach infestations, water damage leading to mold, and residents forced to clean and maintain common spaces themselves. Their complaints are well founded, and the result is unacceptable.
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development affirms these concerns since, according to JustFix.Nyc, you have dozens of outstanding violations for this property and hundreds that you have received over time. This is an abysmal record that requires immediate rectification.
Your rent-paying tenants deserve better. The fact that you are currently asking for approval to expand your development onto a neighboring parcel is troubling if we can expect this record to be repeated at the new location. I ask you to do your job and ensure all your current and future tenants receive the quality housing they deserve.
Senator Michael Gianaris
Deputy Majority Leader