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City sets its sights on up to 24,000 units on Sunnyside Yards, according to report

Feb. 6, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan

The NYC Economic Development Corporation is entertaining the possibility of building as many as 24,000 residential units on the Sunnyside Yards, according to a feasibility study the agency released today.

The study lays out three test cases for the mega-development, which would be built over the 180-acre rail yard situated between Sunnyside, Astoria and Long Island City. Most of the residential units would go up toward the Sunnyside portion of the yards.

The study is a follow up to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to build thousands of affordable housing units on top of the yard, which he first announced in early 2015.

The first test case would see the construction of between 18,000 and 24,000 residential units on certain segments of the site. It would also add between 13 and 19 new schools, 2,400 to 3,300 new parking spaces and up to 52 acres of public park land. The test case allocates 700,000 to 900,000 square feet of retail space, but does not propose any construction of new office space.

The second test case, according to the EDC, would provide more of a balance of residential, commercial and community space.

It proposes the construction of 14,000 to 19,000 residential units, as well as about 4 million to 5.5 million square feet of office space and 500,000 to 700,000 square feet of retail space. It would add 10 to 14 schools to the area as well as 1 to 1.4 million square feet of higher education space, 3,300 to 4,500 parking spaces, and between 37 and 50 acres of park space.

The final test case falls somewhere in the middle of the first two cases, aiming to make Sunnyside Yards more of a destination. It proposes building 16,000 to 22,000 residential units, and though it does not leave room for office buildings, it does suggest building 1.1 to 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use buildings. It would also add 10 to 14 new schools, 3,900 to 5,300 new parking spaces, and between 31 and 42 acres of park space.

Regardless of which plan is picked, or if a new plan is adopted, the study shows that 30 percent of all residential units would be made permanently affordable.

The study shows that the estimated cost of the entire project would be between $16 and $19 billion, though the project would be broken down in to phases.

The heart of the project will likely go up in the east section of in the yards, in what the study calls the “Core yard.”

Development of Sunnyside Yards would likely begin with the Core Yard, which covers about 70 acres partially bordering Queens Boulevard and Northern Boulevard, but does not reach Skillman Avenue.

The Core Yard would contain about 11,000 to 15,000 new residential units, 15 to 20 new acres of park space, and new community facilities and amenities.

The study estimates that it would cost about $10 billion to build the Core Yard, which could then expand outwards to eventually cover between 80 to 85 percent of the 180-acre rail yard.

“This feasibility study is only the first stage in a multi-step, multi-year design process needed to realize a project of this scale and complexity,” concludes the study, pointing out that the Sunnyside Yards project will be ongoing over the next many years and likely through several administrations if it moves forward.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who has been a critic of developing the yards, suggested that de Blasio come to the neighborhood and explain his plans.

“This is potentially a big project with enormous ramifications. I invite Mayor de Blasio to come out to Western Queens and hold a town hall meeting with my constituents. He can use this as an opportunity to explain what the administration hopes to accomplish, and solicit necessary community feedback from the residents of Western Queens. I would gladly join him at such an event.”

Meanwhile, State Sen. Mike Gianaris said in a statement, “Any future development must ensure adequate infrastructure to handle our growing population, including additional schools, parks and open spaces, and vastly improved mass transit, particularly on the 7 line. I will intensify my efforts to see these needs addressed before thousands of new residents are added to our neighborhood and will not support any plan that does not have the community’s approval.”

The decision to develop the yards will ultimately be decided by the city council.

For the study, please click here.

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16 Comments

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MRLIC

Most residents don’t want anymore LARGE construction in the LIC area, find somewhere else to ruin. Will these measly so called “AFFORDABLE APTS” be affordable? I doubt it. Stores unless franchises are not coming here. This is not a 24 hour area as everyone rushes home after work no matter what time of year. You see more Dogs being walked and pooping (sometimes on the sidewalk) in the summer and more joggers but hat’s about it. Leave LIC alone already.

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Anon

I have seen an increase in poop on the sidewalks. It is really surprising most of these people have no manners and don’t clean up.

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OAR

There is also increased dog poop in the triangular garden and surrounding sidewalks at the intersection of Hunter Street, 43rd Ave and 27th street. Any time I say something to those who are allowing their dogs to use the garden as a dog toilet I get a nasty reply. They are the new residents of all these new apartment buildings and have no respect for their neighbors or the City Parks Dept. workers who have to deal with the dog poop when they come to maintain the garden area. There is a request being made for more green space but if it is full of dog poop the rest of us cant use it. The same is true in Murray Playground, where there is a DOG RUN and yet dog owners let their dogs pee and poop on the grass circle where they are not allowed and where children play. They also take their dogs onto the artificial turf playing field, again where they are not allowed. If you want to have big open places to let your dog run, move to the suburbs!

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MRLIC

Anonymous, you are pipe dreaming. Sure, the city evolves and grows but with proper planning. The MTA keeps raising fares every 2 years and will again in 2019. Our lousy Mayor & City Council want a Bag Tax of 5 cents on every plastic, Tolls on Free Bridges won’t work as no one can afford all these things. Prices and Taxes are already too high here. There are too many CABS on the roads which leads to vehicular overcrowding. There just aren’t enough Tranis opportunities. This plan will cost a lot I read (19 Billion) and when all is said and done (40 billion) and take many many years to complete. There has to be some sort of platform built. Amtrak wants to build something here to make their trains rn quicker I also read.

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Anonymous

Your right, in a way I am dreaming because the reality is nothing will be done (except the raising of taxes, tolls, & fares) and twenty years from now there will be more people cramming onto the same trains having the same debates. There is no perfect solution, something has to give.

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Frank

Honestly, the MTA fare is too low today. In other cities, you pay about double that the MTA charges and have fare zones to deal with as well. Too bad the idiots at the MTA cannot do a dollar’s worth of work for less than 5 dollars. Were they to be efficient and raise the fare to a realistic level, we would have a transport system to envy.

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Anonymous

The subway fare is actually subsidized by bridge and tunnel tolls. Most of the money collected by the BTO is routed and used for the subways, not the bridges. The operating costs of the MTA are huge and the fare paid doesn’t cut it. They’d probably have to adjust it to $7 a subway/bus ride to cover everything, maybe.

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Anonymous

Over crowding of this city has always been a concern but the fact is the city evolves and grows beyond control, always has. Schools and stores will self adjust as the need grows. Transportation on the other hand is a little tricky as laying new subways isn’t feasible. Too costly, too expensive, and takes too long. Gondolas and ferries are gimmicks. Busses and trolleys will work pretty well if vehicle traffic volume can be addressed. In other words cars are the problem, too many of them. Limit them in some way and the roads free up for busses/trolleys which can become a very efficient/effective/cheap way of moving people around the city. Ways of limiting vehicles and the traffic are by making exclusion zones, requiring vehicle permits ($dissuasion$)for city travel during peak hours, dedicated bus lanes throughout the city, improving the traffic control system (lights) and enforcement of gridlock via violation cameras.

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P13

This is just ridiculous. There is TONS of industrial space available near Laguardia College and the MoMa warehouse that can be developed without having to get all fancy with the engineering of building OVER a working railyard. The greedy developers just want free land to build on and the corrupt politicians will do anything for them as long as they get their bribes.

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MRLIC

Migroschrott, Your assessment of the MTA is correct,while your assessment of the City’s plan is wrong. The area needs to slow down development not increase it. The lack of stores,parks,schools and roads and bridges that can handle the load also. Overcrowding is never a good thing fr any neighborhood. I think many of these hotels will be homeless shelters in the near future. There are 61 hotels slated for the LIC area when all is said and done don’t forget. Some already have been converted to a shelter such as the Verve I believe near Queens-Plaza.

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Migroschrott

In theory expansion should be contained but in a city like NY, that’s a futile effort. It’ll expand somewhere else. You can’t stop progress but at least they should plan it well. Given that they did account for schools and other infrastructure, not just units, did surprise me and is welcomed. But it’s not the whole story, transit does play a big role. And I feel like that’s were most of the patchwork and non-planning is going on.

Despite protests from community and various legislators, I don’t think that this development can ultimately be stopped. With all the “affordable” housing that the developers promised, it’s pretty much a done deal for De Blasio. What does he care how you get to work? At least he fulfilled his campaign promise of all the affordable housing he was going to provide…

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Migroschrott

Ignoring the obvious elephant in the room, overall it sounds like a reasonable proposal. So I commend State Sen. Mike Gianaris for bringing up the concern for the subway that somehow has been left out of that “Feasibility Study”.

However, if he wants to ensure “vastly improved mass transit, particularly on the 7 line”, then this project is unlikely to come to fruition. The 7 already runs at capacity, which the CBTC upgrade should have alleviated. Yet, after almost a decade of annual weekend shutdowns, it’s still not complete. With a targeted completion date of Fall 2017 (we all know how on-time MTA projects are), it only manages to add two more additional trains during rush hour, that’s it. I’m sure that “alleviation” didn’t take into account the LIC real estate boom of the past several years. Then there’s at least the outstanding development of 5000 additional units at Hunters Point South and who knows how many in Green Point’s upcoming waterfront re-development.

So at best the CBTC upgrade will be a wash but it looks more like after all these years the rush hour will be worse than it is now. And that’s really it, there is nothing more that can be done on the 7 line to “optimize” it. The number of trains that fit on a line is finite. The stations can’t grow in size for longer trains. And now we want to add 10’s of thousands of more people to the area?

I’m really really curious to know what solutions the MTA has up its sleeve. I mean, it’s not like they can just pop out a brand-new line within the next few years (painful reminders: 7 extension/2nd Ave). Even IF they had unlimited funds, they wouldn’t be able to build out subway demand fast enough. So what are the alternatives?

– Increased ferry service? Stop-gap, only feasible for waterfront communities.
– Gondolas? Way less capacity than a subway.
– Buses? Less capacity, get stuck in traffic like the rest.
– Streetcars? Get stuck in traffic even more if no dedicated lane.

What is their long-term strategy? I’d like to see a feasibility study from the MTA on how they are really going to build out mass transit in an ever-growing NYC.

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MRLIC

Where are these people going to fit in to a overcrowded infrastructure? (Trains,Roads, Sewage,power,lack of stores,schools etc..) No planning when buliding is just insane

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brooklynmc

I am pro growth, but I am beginning to wonder just who is in charge and just how much money are they taking under the table. The infrastructure cannot handle this growth. Maybe, if more commercial is built in downtown LIC, there will be enough jobs to support a standalone city, but for now, we are reliant on Manhattan. It would be nice if I could live and work in LIC. They need to immediately come up with a solid transportation plan. The light rail, trams, ferries and I think the old tracks should be used for a raised bike lane.

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