The city is officially moving forward on developing a neighborhood over the Sunnyside Yards by launching a master planning process this summer. The Economic Development Corporation announced today that Alicia Glen, deputy mayor of economic development and Anthony Coscia, chairman of Amtrak, which owns most of the space, signed a letter of intent to collaborate on the plan. The EDC’s announcement confirms Crain’s New York Business’ March 29 report that urbanist Vishaan Chakrabarti will be heading the master plan team. But more people are involved! Cali Williams, an EDC vice president for the last decade, now has the title: director of Sunnyside Yard. And a steering committee headed by Elizabeth Lusskin, president of the Long Island City Partnership and Sharon Greenberger, head of the YMCA for Greater New York (what?) will be consulting on the plan. But wait… what about elected officials who don’t want this to happen?
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district spans both the LIC and Sunnyside sides of the yards, has been vocal against this project. How the EDC and mayor’s office will be able to push this ahead without the support from the 26th city council rep, I’m really not sure. The yards would have to be rezoned to allow residential development and super tall buildings, something the council member would have to approve. Sunnyside Post reported shortly after the EDC’s announcement today that JVB and State Rep. Catherine Nolan, who also opposes the plan, complained the city went around them on this. Well of course.
Councilman Costa Constantinides, screenshot from City Council webpage
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, screenshot from City Council webpage
The Astoria Postreports that City Councilman Costa Constantinides is probably eyeing the Queens borough president seat for 2021 when Melinda Katz vacates. Constantinides, who is serving his final term as council-member, held a fundraiser with a maximum donation of $3,850, the top limit allowed for borough president. A flyer for the fundraiser reads, “I hope I can count on you as we expand upon our legacy and fight for higher office after my current term ends.” If true, this makes the second city council member from Western Queens eying the beep race. It was revealed in February that Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer formed a Queens Borough President exploratory committee.
Joelle, 17 (orange vest), one of the organizers of today’s Women’s Ride in Queens: “As a woman being a cyclist, there’s a lot of gender discrimination” in the form of mansplaining or street harassment, she says. “So we wanted to say women should feel strong & impowered to ride.” pic.twitter.com/3Ym5A6Gw0K
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer will be at LaGuardia Community College tomorrow for the opening reception of “The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens,” an exhibit on the last 25 years of LGBT activism in Queens.
At this month’s Community Board 1 full meeting, members said they’d be sending out a survey for Ravenswood area residents. The idea, apparently, is to have some measure on how residents feel about changes happening in the area in regards to all the development going on. This should help the board in future land use reviews and all that kind of stuff. The same survey will go out throughout CB1 but it will start in Ravenswood because there’s so much development happening here. I think I can name some of it:
The twin Alma towers at 34-46 Vernon Boulevard. It looks finished, doesn’t it? But someone pointed out to me recently the fences weren’t on the balconies yet.
The survey will go out to tenants association type groups CB1 members said but be on the lookout for it in local newspapers, if you guys read those things.
A few notes:
$450,000 year-round exercise equipment at Queensbridge park, a $500,000 soil science lab at the Ravenswood Houses? These are a couple of the eight ideas that are up for a vote in the 26th council district at the 4th round of participatory budgeting.
A 7 Train Coalition launched to fight gentrification along the 7 line but I wish they’d call it Occupy the 7 Train.
The city council is investigating Jared Kushner’s company for falsely claiming that buildings it owned and sold in Astoria didn’t have rent-regulated tenants.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney dismissed the campaign funding of her primary challenger, Suraj Patel by saying “it’s mainly from Indiana, where he’s from… mainly a huge amount of the name Patel, which is his name.” Patel told BuzzFeed that not all Patels are related, suggesting that Maloney is racist. “I guess I didn’t realize Rep. Maloney hired Steve Bannon as her campaign strategist,” he said.
I stalked Councilman Jimmy van Bramer today. Well, for five minutes I swung by the annual black history month celebration at the Jacob Riis Settlement at Queensbridge. I stood quietly in the back and noticed there was lots of free food. JVB honored a whole bunch of people. Here’s a whole list of them. What I heard sounded like a tribute to people making their community a great place by doing things such as anti-violence work.
Old news: A few days ago Councilman Costa Constantinides announced he’s officially going through with making over Steinway Street: he wants there to be mid-block crosswalks and a plaza. But I’m… not sure when and how? And he doesn’t seem to be sure where this plaza will be. Too bad no one reads this yet. I’d say, post your opinion on where the plaza should go.