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Capital New York: Amtrak Weighing Development of Sunnyside Yards

Photo Courtesy: NYCEDC

Oct. 23, 2014 By Capital New York

Amtrak is considering developing Sunnyside Yards in Queens as part of a nationwide evaluation of its real estate portfolio and could turn to investors as early as next spring to find partners willing to explore potential uses for those properties, the company’s chairman, Anthony Coscia, said Thursday.

Executives have been in talks with the de Blasio and Cuomo administrations about the site, Coscia told reporters at a global real estate conference at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. Coscia mentioned the plans during a panel discussion moderated by former deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff.

The Sunnyside Yards is one the largest undeveloped parcels in New York City and holds virtually limitless potential to developers willing to build a platform above the tracks. Planners have long dreamed about what could be built on the property, which remains an active rail yard used by several train companies.

For the full Capital New York story click here.

Sunnysidepost: Van Bramer differs with Community Board Chair over development of Sunnyside Yards

 

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Patricia Dorfman

Wondering: If Sunnyside Gardens was thrown the bone of landmarking, and as the rest of Western Queens is falling to the wrecking balls, perhaps Sunnyside Yards was always going to be the jewel in the crown for big money players from the first in the East Side Access plan.

The commenter who mentioned the lack of urban planning for Queens has hit on it, but it might be more grim. Perhaps there has been considerable urban planning for Queens – just not in earshot of taxpayers and residents whose quality of life is at stake.

One worries that a key aim of one of the largest underground rail projects ever in the world, but mysteriously out of the news (even though it would be ideal for elementary school tours) was to sell the above ground for development.

Remove the need for over ground yards, and Amtrak, developers, banks, architects, and real estate interests make a fortune. Package to Queens’ residents as “affordable” or as “residential housing needs,” or as “inevitable” urban expansion, and the development of the Yards is done deal, with no need to ask residents and taxpayers what we actually want. So big money gets what it wants, we pay for it, and nobody suffers but us.

East Side was described as intending increased rail access to the East Side of Manhattan from Long Island, great news, not removing all need for an over-ground facility and a key step in freeing up land on top for development.

East Side Access itself was moved across the stage in an odd way. We only heard about it when it was already begun and half of the initial 6.3 billion dollars needed of the public money were in the bank.

Ask residents if they want or need hundreds of thousands of additional people on the Yards land. History shows that if even if a partial park is promised, it will be a Trojan horse for over development of the remaining land so that investors make their money.

So as we all thought we were enduring the decades of noise, pollution and disruption for the greater good of mass transit, what might be going on is rich people acting in stealth with the current and future lives of Queens residents at stake, and paying for it with our money.

Who we now consider altruistic visionaries who shoved out unhappy dwellers to build Central Park, we do so because the result was a greater good for more people. That was urban planning for the betterment of residents and posterity.

Building over the Yards is not for the greater good. It would be getting 15 more years of noise, pollution and then a massive strain on already strained infrastructure with hundreds of thousands of additional residents in undistinguished boxes. One suspects behind closed doors the development has already probably jobbed out to huge corporations for bid.

And how has this been described to us? Not only as “inevitable” but Amtrak announcing on its own what to do with its land. That would be more palatable if Amtrak itself were not propped up, deservedly, by public money.

What would be proper and fair of the current government and city agencies is to have real public hearings about what was and is intended. Not act a la Robert Moses where there is huge amount of public money spent, massive holes in the ground, and all of us trapped into change.

It’s our money, our air, our quality of life, our needs that should be foremost in the considerations of those who govern us or those bodies that speak for us about ripping up land Queens.

I hope I am wrong about the above.

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curlicue58

Most of you sound like your more interested in fighting with each other than being concerned about the community.I’m a N.Y. city transplant and have been living here over 7yrs and loving it. I also take insult to the expression wannabe snob. Young people or “Hipsters” as you call them,young families with children bring money into the neighborhood and hopefully more amenities which we can certainly use,and more jobs. Every block has a nail salon,laundry mat and more fast food fattening restaurants within five city blocks than I’ve seen anywhere. The only thing we are missing is Taco Bell,Pizza Hut,Popeye’s(which I wouldn’t mind),KFC,Roy Rogers,Quiznos,and Arby’s. You all sound like you live in a bubble that can’t be inhabited by anyone who hasn’t lived here but you. The price of rent,food,movies tickets etc. is not in anyones control nor will it ever be. And maybe one of these days when you are old and slip and fall on the street,one of those wannabe Hipster snobs will be there to help you up !

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ak_nyc

Unfortunately many of us who live here, some by choice, others due to circumstances beyond their control, will have to come to terms with the fact that they live in a growing metropolis, and not in their daddy’s pocket to be protected from everything around them.

If you have a house and own it, great for you! No one is asking you to leave. If you have a rent-regulated apartment, great for you! You can live here in perpetuity. If you are free market tenant, the writing is on the wall. Ten years from now, the economics of living here will be very different.

Astoria is different now. DUMBO is different now. Crown Heights, Fort Greene, Bushwick, etc. change is afoot everywhere around YOU! Why, please do tell, do you feel you should be spared from the needs of a growing city without enough housing options, both free market and affordable?

I love Sunnyside. I live here. I have roots and family here. I give a lot of my time back to the community here. But I’m also cognizant of the fact that needs of an entire city can’t revolve around your idyllic paradise that luckily for all of us, has flown under the radar way longer than any of us expected it to.

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Skillman Ave Resident

This neighborhood is different now – you can talk to anyone who lives here for more than 20 years. Don’t assume that it didn’t change. It used to be very Irish, then very Romanian. It is not a case anymore. It is not the same neighborhood anymore. If they think about building anything there I hope they will add a new subway line because I don’t know how much more people can squeeze on the 7 train and the new school because the class sizes in PS150Q are outrages – more than 30 kids in a classroom. .

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Patricia Dorfman

good question, jake…i answer sincerely…because when that was promised in other areas of nyc, it was a trojan horse for developers. you assume there is anyone well meaning behind this. this attempt to cash in on the yards by people who do not live near and will not suffer. there would no no motivation for those who would provide a park portion to not make their money in the rest of the land. and if amtrak does this without regard to local input, as i mentioned, they receive and receive help from the taxpayers.

this has has gone on for at least 50 years. bloomberg also tried it. the last proposal floated was for 300,000 units to be built there. there is no chance of enough park space to mitigate the effect of population density on an already strained infrastructure.

i ask that those who are complaining and making fun of protests put their real names and where they live. the Yards are the gleam in eyes of big money or cronies who do not live here and would never allow this near their homes. i am grateful we were thrown the bone of landmarking sunnyside gardens, but we all need to stand up for all of queens and have a SAY in what happens. this is an environmental, democratic, aesthetic, and quality of life issue not just for us but the people who will rent or buy there. we need to take care of the future people of queens. we are not the outer borough to us.

I am not anti business or banks or real estate brokers. I am opposed to going forward without true input from local residents and pretending we all are clamoring for it.

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SunnysidePosthatesme16

With all the new housing being developed here and by Queensboro plaza, you Goobers are in for a REAL treat in a few years. I should be gone way before then, somewhere where you don’t pay 1880 for 685 sq ft. SUCKERS!

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Jake M.

I can’t tell if you’re being serious. You say, “Sunnyside Yards is a world-famous railyard which also provides needed air, sky and lack of people for an area deprived of parks,” which is a pretty weird statement coming from anyone who has actually seen Sunnyside Yards. Are you suggesting our children, who DO lack good parks, should instead play in the Yards, which contain “toxic substances”?

Chew on this: instead of vocally opposing the development of an industrial waste site in the middle of a city, vocally insist that the development contain plentiful green space and parks?

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Littleolme

Finally, someone sees the truth.

I can’t bear to listen to naive newcomers who will cry bitter tears when THEY get priced out in a decade or so. They will have to eat their nasty, arrogant, ignorant words.

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littleolmeisdum

Im only replying to say that littleolme is an insufferable retard. You have no idea how stupid you come off. But what really bothers me is your insistane on insulting everyone who posts here. How about you learn you speak like an adult and not resort to childish name calling and insults

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Patricia Dorfman

The Sunnyside Yards is a world-famous railyard which also provides needed air, sky and lack of people for an area deprived of parks. If Amtrak bullies the people of Queens to this degree, meaning sell off some of their giant holdings to make some money, it will be clear, who runs America, the people or hidden forces with fortunes beyond our control. The money the government provided to Amtrak to keep the railroad solvent, i applauded, but it was our money.

I support Jimmy Van Bramer whose courage on this issue, backing no development, has been unprecedented in Queens history. If the Community Board sides with hidden forces, there is not even an attempt at democracy and Queens is lost altogether.

Any development there, even a partial park, opens the door for big money to come in and ruin our lives with misleadingly-named development of the rest.

There is underneath the Yards toxic substances which must be cleaned up, which we were told would take 100 years to clean up. If all our leaders stand together with us, we have a chance at having a place at the table. Before any of us knew anything about East Side Access, half of the early 6.3 was in the bank and the project was underway. I am all for East Side Access.

But if Amtrak proceeds with the help of groups designed to get the people’s input, we are now so many pieces of debris to be wiped off the Queens table as those who live elsewhere make a lot of money and ruin our lives.

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Anonymous visitor

Great job Jake M. Maybe they will all realize how stupid they all sound about their constant whining about change being bad. keep everything the same……as long as it doesn’t cost them anything

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Jake M.

I have an idea. Why don’t we all pitch in and buy the rights to develop Sunnyside Yards and just let it sit there as it is now… forever. While we’re at it, let’s buy all the real estate in Sunnyside, too. We can discriminate, and refuse to rent to people we consider “hipsters”. Meanwhile, the loyal, long-term residents (10+ years, 20+ years, birth right only?) can rent for next to nothing while rents go up in the rest of NYC!!! We can let mom and pop businesses rent at a loss to us, so they can continue to operate — regardless of how poorly run, relevant or profitable their businesses are. Because, hey! They’re mom and pop!

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Littleolme

Jake M. No matter what, you are gonna have a hard time wresting the homes away from people. The developers are the discriminators, not the people who live here. They are just living.

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Anonymous

Funny, that’s what all the new families/young professionals/”hipsters” are doing as well.

Oh yea that doesn’t count since you don’t think it should. Give it a rest.

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Anonymous visitor

But you think we who lived here before you should be happy you have come to push us out. That’s the difference.

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Anonymous

TBH, I don’t really care what you think. I thought that was your original issue with all hipsters.

Yournidiot

Read “Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism,” before you pour your snide comments on the heads of people fighting for their lives. Your stupidity is insufferable.

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Littleolme

I bet Joe “Pants on Fire” Conley planted this story to cover up his baldfaced lie about Sunnysiders wanting the yards developed.

No matter what happens, Mr. Burnt Britches, we all know now that you are a liar.

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Littleolme

We’re so screwed it isn’t even funny. Life as we know it is gone. Welcome to a neighborhood that has Rego Park traffic populated by Manhattan Wannabe Snobs.

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Anonymous visitor

ak_nyc, The enitre argument for the residential development of LIC was that immigrants from all over the world were pouring in here and were living in horrid conditions in the existing housing. Crowded into basements, illegally divided apartments, etc. At least that is the argument I heard at CB meetings all over Queens 15 years ago when I was reporting for local papers.

But none of that housing has been built, has it? The argument was to bring prices down by flooding the market with new housing. That hasn’t happened, has it?

They are lying. It is a apoplectic orgy of real estate greed. Did you read the article? It said something to the effect that it isn’t healthy for all those people living in LIC to have idling trains near them. What!? Why the hell did you build buildings next to a rail yard that had been there for over a hundred years then? Kramden’s is right. This was decided decades ago with a handshake somewhere in an expensive restaurant. Loyal, hardworking local people are being screwed out of everything they spent their lives working for so developers can get rich by pricing them out. You, ak-nyc, are the naive one if you believe the baloney.

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ak_nyc

Lisa that’s very NIMBY’ish of you. We need to be pragmatic — NYC needs higher density housing (which also includes affordable spaces), especially in areas located in close proximity to Manhattan.

Any development done here should also have clear plans showing how they will be able to support the increased density. Schools, parks, mass transportation and commercial shopping should all be thought through beforehand. Some investment into the existing neighboring communities would also help offset the nuisance those of us currently living here would have to put up with for several years.

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Anonymous visitor

We have been putting up with nuisance for over a decade. In Phipps Gardens we lived through the pounding of pilings for the Shops on 48th St. It was horrible. Now people in SG homes are living through the East Side Access.

The Shops at 48th brought massive increases in traffic of all kinds to a previously very quiet neighborhood. And the big changes taking place in every corner of Sunnyside and Woodside will only bring more.

They don’t invest in existing communities, they destroy them in favor of future communities that will bring more money, more taxes and more votes to the city. Don’t be so silly. YOU need to be pragmatic instead of spouting the party line of developers. Grow up.

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Anonymous

Sunnyside gardens people have no problem taking public funds for a private park though. When it comes to accommodating other? Not so gracious.

Go kick rocks.

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Anonymous visitor

The park never, ever took money from the city and it is my belief they never should have. The people who voted yes, on that were almost completely brand new members who had a poor understanding of the consequences of their greed.

The park has been taken over, too.

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Lisa

Oh great, we here in Sunnyside Gardens will be tortured with the sounds of construction and more people will populate our beautiful little community. I think development has gone to far in this case or should I say greed. I like the wide open spaces of Sunnyside. I do not wish to see it develop into another Manhattan.

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Anonymous visitor

Lisa, I’ve lived here all my life. For many years people said, “The worst thing that could happen is that we’re “discovered.” That will be curtains.” They had no idea how ruinous it would be.

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Littleolme

BP, Inarticulation never yet won a debate. Come on back when you have learned to speak and write the English language. Until then, stop your ugly noise.

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Anonymous

You guys complain when developers build taller or out? Do you idiots want affordable housing or not?

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Littleolme

Yeah, maybe. But the land was LIRR property before then, and before that a farmer owned it. So, maybe cows and little cabooses were complaining, but no one spoke their language.

Unfortunately we speak yours, Krissi, and you have to hear us loudly voice our protest as you make a killing by selling us out.

So, you can go for a long walk off a short pier.

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Kramden's Delicious Marshall

Of course it’s being developed. Has anyone else noticed all the work that’s going on there? The decision has been made, this is all theater.

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