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. 

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City announces Sunnyside Yards planning team, hears hell from JVB, Nolan

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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. 

Continue reading “City announces Sunnyside Yards planning team, hears hell from JVB, Nolan”

Crain’s: City selects team for Sunnyside Yards master plan

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A figure from the city’s 2017 feasibility report on the Sunnyside Yards project shows a full neighborhood of high-rises spread across the site.

Crain’s New York reported Thursday that sources say the city has tapped architect and urbanist Vishaan Chakrabarti to lead up the design plan for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s major development proposal for the Sunnyside Yards. The Crain’s story comes one year after the city released a report on the potentiality of decking over the vast train yards, projecting the endeavor could cost $16-19 billion, involving 14,000 to 24,000 market rate apartments and 4,200 to 7,200 apartments counted as affordable. Since the mayor announced his plan for building housing over the swath of land in his 2015 State of the City address, little has been mentioned by the city about the project other than last year’s study. 

The site, which according to last year’s report could include residential buildings 15 to 69 stories high and office buildings 18 to 44 stories, would expand on the growing Long Island City skyline and would constitute a new sub-neighborhood within Western Queens. Some dissidents have suggested the sudden volume of new people could have an overwhelming impact on the areas transit, schools and rents. Crain’s says the city won’t likely be able to act on a master plan until after BDB’s term ends in 2021.

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