You are reading

Doctoroff, who calls for developing Sunnyside Yards, doesn’t understand Western Queens, Van Bramer and residents say


Dec. 2, 2014 By Christian Murray

The drum beat to develop the Sunnyside Yards continues with the latest call to build on it coming from the former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff.

Doctoroff, in a New York Times op-ed piece that ran Sunday, said that the city needs to build a 3.1 million square foot convention center and that Sunnyside Yards would be the ideal place for it. The center could also be accompanied, he wrote, by nearly 14,000 residential units of which 50 percent would be affordable.

The op-ed stated that Long Island City is a great location for this development since it is “one of the most convenient, transit-friendly areas in the city, served by eight subway lines.” The idea is that the new convention center would replace the Javits Center, which he deemed too small.

However, residents and local officials argue that the concept just doesn’t make sense and that the neighborhood’s infrastructure in terms of schools, parks and subways are already stretched. Many are unsure how the neighborhood will absorb all the new residents coming to the area, with 5,000-10,000 units coming online in the next few years.

“I found some of [Doctoroff’s op-ed] patronizing,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer who opposes decking over the yards. “It revealed to me somewhat of a Manhattan elitist view of Queens.”

Van Bramer said that Doctoroff might find the neighborhood transit friendly when he looks at the area on a map. However, he said, people who live here know that the No. 7 train is not reliable and there are a lot of delays. During morning rush hour, people often struggle to get on at the Jackson Ave/Vernon Blvd. Station, he said.

At the October Community Board 2 meeting, when the idea of studying the yards was raised, several board members wanted to know how the area will cope with all the Court Square/Queens Plaza development coming online—let alone the yards.

Meanwhile, a petition has just been formed, calling on the city not to allow the site to be developed.

Van Bramer viewed Doctoroff’s push for avoidable housing to be disingenuous—arguing that this an argument used to buttress his case to “plop a mega convention in our neighborhood.”

“I am incredibly supportive of affordable housing,” Van Bramer said, but using affordable housing as a tool is “offensive.”

Councilman Van Bramer

Councilman Van Bramer

Furthermore, Doctoroff in his op-ed, said that the Yards represented a “nasty scar through the heart of Queens.”
Van Bramer took exception to this viewpoint. “I have lived in these neighborhoods my entire life and it is not a scar. It’s a patronizing to say we have this awful thing and that they have to come here and make it better.”-

However, Doctoroff is not alone in suggesting the Yards should be developed.

In October, the chairman of Amtrak, Anthony Coscia, said that the company was considering developing sections of the Yards. The company said it could turn to investors as early as spring and that it had been in talks with the mayor’s office over its use.

Representatives for the mayor said at the time that the site could be used to advance the mayor’s affordable housing goals.

Meanwhile, the Daily News reported that the Department of City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod said at a meeting Monday that the he and the Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen are studying the site.

However, nothing is planned at this point, Van Bramer said. However,” I think we need to remain vigilant because it is in the minds of some wealthy and powerful people,” he said. “We need to watch out and be careful.”

“What we really need are more schools, green space and better transportation—not a convention center,” Van Bramer said.

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 
Lic fan

I read the op-ed and agree with most of it, the rail yards are a wasted opportunity in their current state and the possibility of developing into a viable resource for the city should be considered. A couple months ago there was an interesting article in NYT about proposing a transit hub providing monorail services to LGA & JFK with connections to both the MTA & LIRR, another interesting proposal. But yes, the yards are an unpleasant property that keeps several neighborhoods divided.


Come on Jimmy let the entire waterfront become soulless Disneyland garbage. Do you really believe him?


A single person was not responsible for the waterfront development.

I do believe Van Bramer’s remarks.


LICPost: Thank you for writing this. Also, would be interesting to hear an explanation of the logistical role this rail yard serves. I would want to know how our trains might be affected before even considering adjusting how the space is used. Maybe a post addressing that is called for?

Glad Van Bramer is reacting with healthy skepticism.


I agree. Build a platform over the yards and make much of it greenspace. I do think, however, that adding in a decent number of new buildings makes sense given the yards’ proximity to the E, M, G, 7, N, R, and Q trains. How about some amenities too?


Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Gunman who fired shots at the Ravenswood Houses in Long Island City remains at large: NYPD

Police from the 114th Precinct in Astoria and PSA 9 are continuing their search for a gunman who allegedly opened fire at the Ravenswood Houses in Long Island City last month.

The incident occurred during the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 18, when officers responded to a 911 call and a ShotSpotter activation for multiple shots fired at 21-25 35 Ave. at the Ravenswood Houses NYCHA complex just after 2 a.m., according to authorities.

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Long Island City teen sentenced in fatal shooting of ‘beloved’ school teacher at Queensbridge Houses in 2020: DA

A Long Island City man on Friday, Jan. 28, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the 2020 fatal shooting of a public school social studies teacher who was out walking his dog when he was caught in the crossfire during a confrontation between gang rivals in broad daylight, just blocks from his home, according to Queens District Attorney’s office.

Ike Ford, 19, of 12th Street, in Long Island City, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder. The teacher, George Rosa, 53, was shot in his abdomen by a stray bullet fired by Ford, who was just 17 years old at the time of the shooting but was sentenced as an adult given the severity of the crime, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.