February 6, 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,” Van Bramer said in a statement.
Van Bramer added, “I share what I know will be many of my constituents concerns. Infrastructure, particularly transportation, schools, parks, libraries and other needs must be met before we can entertain any such ideas from this administration. Let me be clear, this plan will be voted up or down at the City Council, and I won’t support anything that isn’t right for our community.”
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.