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De Blasio’s Sunnyside Yards plan might result in 70,000 units being built on top of tracks

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Feb. 12, 2015 By Christian Murray

Seventy thousand units might need to be constructed over Sunnyside Yards if the Mayor’s plan to build 11,250 affordable units over the tracks is to be realized.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told members of the Hunters Point Civic Association on Tuesday that 70,000 to 80,000 units might need to be built in order to attract developers to construct the affordable units.

“To get to the 11,200-odd…the number of units could be as high as 70,000 to 80,000 on Sunnyside Yards,” Van Bramer said, since developers typically require market rate apartments to offset the cost of constructing affordable units.

This would result in “a massive, massive development on the scale we have never seen before in western Queens that will affect Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and Woodside,” he said.

However, he said no plan should move forward that doesn’t address the needs of the existing residents.

“We can’t fit people on the 7 train today, we don’t have enough school seats for our children today, we don’t have enough green space in western Queens today [excluding Astoria Park and the waterfront in Hunters Point],” he said.

“Adding 100,000 more people to our community is staggering,” he said.”The No. 7 train will not be able to house them all,” he added. “That is crazy.”

In addition to the proposed Sunnyside Yards development, the city is also proposing a rezoning of the Queens Plaza, Jackson Avenue and Northern Blvd corridor. The potential up zoning would result in a significant increase in population– as the zoning change would most likely make way for bigger buildings since the city will be mandating affordable units.

Van Bramer, who represents 160,000 constituents, told the group: “I won’t go along with any plan that hurts our community. You know me I was born and raised here. I have your back and nothing is going to happen without involving everyone in this room.”

Brent O’Leary, the president of the Hunters Point Civic Association who is also legal compliance counsel at Bloomberg LP, said after the meeting that he was not surprised by Van Bramer’s 70,000-unit projection for Sunnyside Yards.

“The city will get a developer to build them and manage them [the affordable units]—and in return the developer will want to build as many market rate units as possible.”

He said his group is opposed building on the Yards, calling for more green space. “We don’t have the infrastructure we need as it is.”

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9 Comments

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LIC resident

Do we have the infrastructure to support this? Electrical upgrades, water, schools, transportation?

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Patricia Dorfman

other nyc areas protest same sort of developments…the mayor may mean well, but it comes down to a turf war – big money people or those who need them against small biz and residents who know it will hurt them

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“The protests have reached a boiling point in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, on the southeast side of Prospect Park, where about a dozen luxury towers are set to rise in the next few years. In April, the community board asked the city’s Planning Department for a zoning study of Empire Boulevard, a stretch of warehouses, auto-body shops and storage units, seeking to have a say — and ensure affordable housing — in the area’s inevitable development.
Within months, a group of incensed residents began disrupting discussions with demands that the board embrace a no-development policy instead of the rezoning proposal. The group, Movement to Protect the People, wants Empire Boulevard to stay low-rise and has called on the city to preserve, not build, affordable units in the area. It has threatened to sue the community board over its vote on the proposal, and it accused elected officials of conspiring with developers.”
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here is the link to whole article – learned a lot
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http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/nyregion/an-obstacle-to-mayor-de-blasios-affordable-housing-plan-neighborhood-resistance.html?_r=0

Reply
SC

It would make sense to build a train station along with this development to give people an option to take the LIRR into Penn or eventually Grand Central.

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PG

This is typical nimby-ism. Mel, please give the city a better option for building something of this scale. The fact is that the rail yards is a scar on western queens, why not make something more useful out of it and address the housing shortage in this city. Besides, the rail yards is hardly in Sunnyside, regardless of it’s name. It wouldn’t destroy your community, it would create something out of nothing, with density adjacent to a transit hub in Queensboro Plaza.

This makes all the sense in the world, except for the price tag. That’s what will ultimately keep this from happening, not a petition. Your complaints are all meaningless.

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LIC Res

Has there ever been a development of this scale, which did NOT turn out to be a horrendous place to live for all involved? Our history of large scale ‘urban renewal’ projects is a bleak one.

I do support affordable housing. Just wonder if this is a wise move.

Reply
Patricia Dorfman

(Reprinted [with corrections], permission of the Woodside Herald)
••••••••
“Please Do Not Build Over Sunnyside Yards
The Mayor has discarded the wishes of the electorate in his enthusiastic speech about his Yards development plan, which seems to favor giant real estate interests and construction workers who do not live here (East Side Access workers live in onsite dormitories). This disconnect from actual human beings and small businesses who have chosen Western Queens, who believe we live in a democracy, look to him as our Mayor, not the Mayor of only people who live elsewhere or who have not yet moved to NYC, is a shock.
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A Trophy Town [my term] being featured so lavishly as a centerpiece of his February 2 speech, when one has yet to find one resident in favor not connected to current government or special interests, gives the appearance that the entire project is one crafted by rich, powerful people that Mayor deBlasio has accepted dutifully. He gets to let giant financial firms make millions, gets to please the unions and others giving huge donations to the party, and can call it “affordable housing,” as though it is a kindness to the needy.
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If affordable housing, whatever that means, is wanted, why not immediately buy five vacant small lots in Sunnyside Woodside here, and get started, for a fraction of the billions this will cost us taxpayers? In two years, something real can happen. The hole in the ground at 46th-Bliss and Queens Blvd. where Dae Dong burned down has been ready for 14 years.
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If the Yards are built over as he plans, that would mean that there seems to be a frightening marriage of political, economic, and organized labor at a national, state and local level which is not by the consent or in the interest of local voters, taxpayers and residents. The words offensive term, used by his aides, that the Yards are an “ugly scar,” and the lie from other associates that we residents are clamoring for decking, sounds like heartless people looking down upon us from on high.
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We live in a virtual one party system out here, with so much power in the hands of elected officials to dispense patronage favors, that the party itself has become a kind of company, which runs for itself. The government then becomes, in this case, not for individuals who voted thinking they would be represented.
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Many in the Queens are shocked at the mayor’s lack of interest in the welfare and wishes of actual residents and small businesses. Mitch Waxman, Astoria resident who reports and photographs for NewtownPentacle.com and Brownstoner.com, says, “I find it surprising that the self-proclaimed progressive mayor of New York City has so thoroughly embraced the plan of Michael Bloomberg’s former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff. (Doctoroff was CEO of Bloomberg LLC.)
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And for those who want to have an open “discussion” about how to use some of the Sunnyside Yards for anything other than a giant park (hey, billionaires Bloomberg and Doctoroff, buy us a park, that will change all of our lives instantly and make you our heroes) means that once any building is done, the rest is up for grabs. We cannot build on just part of it.
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Please do not build over Sunnyside Yards. If Trophy Town comes to pass, it means we no longer have any say about our city. It means that all rezoning of the past 20 years of Queens is calculated to line the pockets of the rich, displace the working class and small businesses who would not be afford the new rents, is paid for by the taxpayer, and is now described as “affordable housing,” of the future, as though it is a noble goal to crush our lifestyles, wishes, hopes and dreams. Developing over the Yards will extend Manhattan over us like servants on borrowed land. (The author is a registered Democrat, union member and Sunnyside resident.)”
••••••••
Adding here: Councilman Van Bramer, Assemblywoman Nolan, Senator Gianaris, please continue your efforts to stand up for no proceeding without local agreement; THANK YOU. @Off the grid guy above, yes, growth in itself has no particular benefit. No need for the “ediface complex.”
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Reader: If you have read this far (sorry), and you haven’t already done so, please sign this petition, or start your own. We are up to about 400 online, and physical signatures over 500. Only 159,000 to go! 🙂
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/124/232/303/please-do-not-build-over-the-sunnyside-yards/
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For the committee, SunnysideYardsNo[email protected]

Reply
Chill

The thought of this invasion is keeping me up at night. We all need to band together and say “No!” Western Queens has been abused for 150 years, when the rail yards were built they destroyed the community that was there. Then the bridge was built and another swatch was gone. Then the LIE, the BQE and the Tribrorough and Grand Central. Enough is enough.

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