City: Sunnyside Yards yes, BQX maybe later

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Images from EDC and Friends of the BQX.

There are two threads of headlines this week for the LIC and Astoria area: 

  1. The city is officially moving forward with a Sunnyside Yards development master plan.
  2. The city officially left important BQX stuff out of its budget. 

That means, the city is on top of developing a mega housing development over the Sunnyside Yards (a lot of people in Astoria and LIC don’t know what that is, but it’s the huge swath of train land east of Northern Boulevard that you see from either the N/W or 7 trains when approaching or leaving Queensborough Plaza). But when it comes to running a streetcar through LIC and Astoria to connect with Brooklyn, it’s just not there yet. 

Continue reading “City: Sunnyside Yards yes, BQX maybe later”

BQX in doubt as study looms

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A rendering of the BQX along Queensbridge, from http://www.bqx.nyc/#gallery

An important player in the BQX streetcar project expressed doubt this Brooklyn-Queens waterfront train will happen. Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for economic development, oversees the Economic Development Corporation, which is studying the feasibility of funding the BQX. The New York Daily News reported late Tuesday that Glen said at an NYU transportation event, “Assuming that it does not pay for itself… then we have to decide whether or not this is the right use of capital money for a transportation project.”

This comes a year after the News reported on an internal memo expressing doubts on the planned self-financing capability, involving underground obstacles:

“Digging up and moving utility lines “continues to be the biggest single cost factor” that “has the possibility to make the project unaffordable and render implementation timelines unfeasible,” according to the memo.”

From the outset, the city projected a $2.5 billion price tag.

Of course the story isn’t over for the BQX, while a late study still looms. Glen said that Senator Chuck Schumer is a “huge fan” of the project. Schumer is of course father of Jessica Schumer, interim executive director of Friends of the BQX. However, this wrinkle might be a minor blow to the group. Rival organization Queens Anti-Gentrification Project has jumped on the opportunity to criticize the project on Facebook:

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NYT to BdB: Time to move on BQX

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A Fall 2016 slide of potential BQX routes into Queens.

The New York Times editorial board says the mayor should hurry along with the Brooklyn Queens Connector, AKA, the BQX streetcar. The editorial board does not say in the piece why it supports the streetcar (which, I think is implied), other than quoting Michael Kimmelman who four years ago said, “a streetcar is a tangible, lasting commitment to urban change.” The editorial also links to Kimmelman’s 2014 piece that actually preceded BdB’s proposal in his 2016 State of the City address. Instead, the editorial focuses more on the concept of time. And yea, the mayor only has one term left to make BQX an official plan. The Times editorial board did a similarly ambiguous writeup of the BQX in 2016 titled, “A Streetcar Ride to New York’s Future.” I guess the opinion is implied in the word, “future.” Here’s how the board concluded then:

 

“City planning is always part art. And this proposal does not lack for vision. But Mayor de Blasio, so invested until now in social welfare issues, will have to show fortitude in defending the practicality of his venture in mass transit innovation. It will have to survive the inevitable criticism of urbanites who think they know better ways than a trolley car to get around New York.”

A few notes:

  • Women on bikes will gather at Queensbridge Park on March 25, then ride to Borough Hall in Kew Gardens to advocate for gender equality AND the continuation of the Queens Boulevard bike lane.
  • Everyone to BdB: Get rid of those garbage trucks already!
    • City Limis: “De Blasio promised that those trucks will be moved out of Ravenswood Houses by Sept. 2017, but his promise didn’t come to fruition because they couldn’t find a space to put those trucks in.”
  • TF Cornerstone dialed down its tower plans at Hunters Point South.
    • TF also bought up 38-21 12th Street in the LIC Industrial Business Zone in Ravenswood, where that long colorful mural is. The Real Deal said, “A 152-key hotel was previously rumored as planned for the site, but TF Cornerstone released a statement saying the company has no plan to change the zoning from industrial use.” But, what the hell else would TFC build?
    • TFC is also building a mega-project at Anable Basin.
  • There’s an exhibit on immigrant women New Yorkers at the Queens Museum.
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney is trying to get Obama’s mental health-gun-background-check-rules back
  • State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas pushes sexual assault legislation.
  • Councilman Costas Constantinides will celebrate Greek American achievements on Greek Indie Day at City Hall 3/5
  • It was Astoria Bookshop’s Twitter anniversary.