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.
Participatory budgeting, where council district constituents get to vote on how to spend a million bucks, starts today in districts 26 (Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside) and 22 (Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Woodside too).
In Astoria, items up for a vote include a hydroponic science lab at LIC High School, lighting upgrades at Astoria Houses Community Center, a tool shed at Two Coves Community Garden and road surfacing.
In LIC, items include bus countdown clocks, trees, a gym at Queensbridge Park, a soil science lab at Ravenswood Houses, tech upgrades at P.S. 112 in Dutch Kills and other schools and playground renovations at P.S. 111 in Ravenswood.
A $33.3 million deal was made to put up a seven story, 200-unit, mixed-use building in Dutch Kills at 37-11 30th Street, Real Estate Weekly reports.
“Dutch Kills, which sits just south of Astoria, has not seen the same level of investments as other sections of Long Island City, such as Hunters Point, Court Square and the area around Queensborough Plaza. Before Avenue and Slate bought the 37-11 30th Street, the only high-end housing project in the area was the Lightstone Group’s ARC complex, which is located two blocks to the south.”
I think we’ve all tried one time or another to walk through the crowds of teenagers on the sidewalk along Broadway at Long Island City High School. Even at the far west end, it’s a busy road down there, so maybe that’s why during the nationwide and citywide student walkout against gun violence yesterday, LIC High School students spent their 17 minutes of protest on the football field.
A federal crackdown on the MTA for failing to comply with disability standards for a subway renovation in the Bronx has created an alliance between Trump-appointee U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman and Democrats such as State Sen. Michael Gianaris. “The MTA’s continued emphasis on style over substance wastes scarce resources, hurts transit riders, and stunts our economy while its failed Enhanced Station Initiative continues to cosmetically renovate stations without improving service or accessibility,” Gianaris said, reports City and State. There has been outcry in Astoria as renovations on the N/W line don’t include elevators.
The MTA plans to prepare Long Island City’s transit for the 2019 L-train shutdown by removing the airport-type automated walkway and widening and adding stairways at the Court Square hub and creating a free transfer between the 23-Ely Ave G and Hunters Point Ave 7 stops as Vice explains. In its Queens angle of the shutdown, the piece delves into the concerns people in Queens are having.
“The members appeared frustrated, not just with what the shutdown could wrought, but what this area of New York City will face in the coming years. According to severalreports, Long Island City has witnessed the most apartment construction in America since 2010, with thousands of additional units in the works. If there’s no infrastructure in place to handle the shutdown, what does that mean for the entire region’s future?”
A TV crew filmed a pilot today at Sixteen Oaks Grove, the usually desolate tree-lined park on 21st Street and 37th Avenue across from a string of auto-body shops. A crew member on the periphery told me the show was so-far untitled. A man knocking on a film-set trailer door on 36th Avenue told me he was filming two pilots in the area for NBC but not Get Christie Love, an ABC project set for filming on 36th Ave tonight and tomorrow.