More Pushback on Sunnyside Yards

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    Mayor de Blasio’s plan–if it’s far enough along to even call it a plan–to build a massive housing complex above the Sunnyside rail yards continues to face opposition from just about every corner. Yesterday the Times ran an article that used the rail yards to highlight the ongoing tension between the mayor and Governor Cuomo. According to the story de Blasio gave Cuomo little notice that he planned to mention the yards in his state of the city address. Hours later Cuomo’s spokesman issued a statement: Sunnyside Yards is “unavailable for any other use in the near term.” After that, transportation authority officials backed out of long-scheduled meetings with the city according to the story

    Here in Queens the reaction from public officials has been swift and entirely negative. On Tuesday Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told the Hunter’s Point Civic Association that in order to meet the 11,200 units of affordable housing that the mayor is seeking, developers might have to build 70,000 to 80,000 units according to the LIC Post. Van Bramer vowed to oppose the plan, pointing out that the area already has issues with green space and transportation.

    “We can’t fit people on the 7 train today, we don’t have enough school seats for our children today, we don’t have enough green space in western Queens today [excluding Astoria Park and the waterfront in Hunters Point],” he said. “Adding 100,000 more people to our community is staggering,” he said.”The No. 7 train will not be able to house them all,” he added. “That is crazy,” he was quoted as saying in the Post.

    State senator Michael Gianaris  also voiced his opposition to the idea at a Community Board Two meeting last week, pointing out similar existing problems with the area’s transportation infrastructure according to an article in the Times Ledger. The community board’s new chairman chimed in with his concerns as well.

    While the development, should it ever go forward would be massive, it’s not clear how Van Bramer came up with his figures. The city currently requires developers seeking zoning changes for their buildings to set aside 20 percent of their units as affordable. If the city and developers follow that model the development will need to have 56,000 units to reach the goal of 11,200 affordable units (one expert quoted by the Post specualted that in exchange for the affordable units developers would be able to build as many market-rate units as they wanted). That is a vast development to be sure, one that would change the neighborhood for decades to come. However, it is also far short of 80,000 units.

    What do you think about the development? Are there better uses for the rail yards or should they just be left as they are?

    For Cuomo and de Blasio, the Tension Comes Easily [NY Times]
    De Blasio’s Sunnyside Yards Plan Might Result in 70,000 Units Being Built on top of Tracks [LIC Post]
    CB2 Keeps Watchful Eye on Sunnyside Rail Yards [Times Ledger]
    Sunnyside Yards Coverage [Q’Stoner]

    Photo: Mitch Waxman

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