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De Blasio Calls For Building 11,000 Affordable Units over Sunnyside Yards– Cuomo Says No

Photo Courtesy: NYCEDC

Feb. 3, 2015 By Christian Murray

The city has plans to develop thousands of affordable apartments over the Sunnyside Yards.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, during his state of the city address today, said that he aims to build 11,250 affordable units over the yards and said that the housing could cater to more than 30,000 people.

However, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office issued a statement that made it clear that such development would not happen soon.

“The MTA uses Sunnyside Yards as an important facility for our transportation system, and it is not available for any other use in the near term,” the statement read.  It noted that the “State and the MTA are studying several potential future uses of the site from a long term planning perspective.”

The concept of building on the Yards has caused quite a stir among western Queens residents in recent months. When it was first suggested in October by Joe Conley, the former chair of Community Board 2, it was panned.

However, the drumbeat for building on the Yards grew when Dan Doctoroff, the former deputy mayor, published an op-ed in the New York Times calling for its development. Furthermore, the Amtrak chair Anthony Coscia said at a real estate conference later that month that it was looking at selling or developing a section of the Yards to raise funds.

These suggestions were dismissed by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer at the time, who said the area didn’t have the infrastructure to handle such development, and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan also expressed concerns. She discussed putting together a group to evaluate the concept.

De Blasio said the city will work with Amtrak and the MTA on the project, and the housing would be built above the tracks.

“Right now there are 200 acres of land in the heart of queens in the form of a rail yard…this could be a real game changer,” he said.

“We know that this site has different parts of it. Some parts could easily handle larger buildings being built there, other parts of this site could not,” de Blasio said. “We’ll work closely with elected officials and community leaders to determine what makes sense and how to build this the right way.”

Van Bramer said in a statement that he spoke to the Mayor at some length before his State of the City speech. “I share his vision [for affordable housing], but I also shared my concerns about his Sunnyside Yards proposal. He was respectful of the issues I raised, and we agreed to continue to dialogue on this critical piece of his agenda.”

Meanwhile, State Sen. Mike Gianaris said he is open to the concept but emphasized that he would not support any proposal with out the backing of the community.

“Mayor de Blasio is right that western Queens needs more affordable middle class housing so we can maintain the character of our growing neighborhoods,” Gianaris said in a statement.

Gianaris added that “Any future development must bring with it more and better schools, new parks and open spaces, and vastly improved mass transit, particularly on the 7 line.” He noted that “It is critical that the discussion regarding Sunnyside Yards includes the community and focuses on providing the additional infrastructure we desperately need. I look forward to working with the Mayor to ensure our existing community is consulted and protected as this process unfolds.”

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Sunnyside up

The deck alone will cost close to a billon.there is no way this is cost effective with social housing


especially since the part right next to JVB’s precious tiny house is elevated and never going to be decked over.


Everyone needs to realize that the part of the Sunnyside rail yards that actually borders Sunnyside is slim, and that a majority of this is not going to interfere with your lives in the least.


@doodoo — ANYone of us who rides the 7 train, E, M, R, Q32, Q60, etc. will be affected by this type of development.

43rd & 43rd

Have you looked at the image he keeps tweeting? The area where he wants to build extends from the west all the way to 43rd, on the north side. And it’s not like people a few blocks from it are going to be magically unaffected.

Sunnyside’s population is is 29,506. De Blasio wants to add 30,000 people.

Everywhere you go in Sunnyside, double everything. Double the people on the packed, failing 7. Double the people in your grocery store and your favorite restaurants (and jack up the prices, too). Double the people in the jammed park, peeing in broad daylight. Double the screaming kids and the drunks. Double the dog poop on the sidewalks. Double the trash and the pollution. And when the criminals move in (especially since it’s the projects…), do you think the police force is going to double? The ambulances and fire engines?

It couldn’t affect our lives more. Even if it isn’t literally next door to your house, it’s still in your backyard.

mike kenny

The Mayor the Mayor is the one I Fear
Can I get his ear to Hear,
Ever so loud and ever so Clear.

We don’t want his plan to Pass
Nor from his mouth, any more of his silly Gas

First it was charters, then horses and carriages, he sought to Ban
Now he has a massive concrete Plan
We in Sunnyside prefer the sky to concrete towers you would build so High
Mayor Mayor, please go away and leave us in peace for another Day


YES Basic bland inexpensive housing, nothing I would call luxury.. $800 1 bedrooms, no stainless steel or granite counter-tops basic linoleum on the floors, a couple today can live in 6-700 sq feet they dont have big possessions anymore…, book records cd’s projection tv’s all gone…

Stuy Town, when it opened in 1947 provided our city with 11,250 affordable apartments

Native NYer

Glad Cuomo came out against this ridiculous idea so quickly. Full effort to make de Crappio a one term mayor.

Patricia Dorfman

dear “big deal,” yes i am. i love the yards because they are a world famous and historic railyard, and provide to all of us nearby air, sky, lack of congestion in an area with no parks, massive construction already underway, commutes already a nightmare, and an infrastructure which cannot possibly sustain a new “city” here to house people who don’t live here. underneath is toxic waste, we here so we are talking our grandchildren still dealing with this strange idea which is not based on new yorkers who live here now but for “growth” which lines the pockets of those who do not live here at the expense of taxpayers and our lives.

Patricia Dorfman

deblasio said today according to the NYTimes:

“…And here’s one that will be a game-changer when it comes to keeping our city affordable for thousands of New York families: Sunnyside Yards.
Right now, there are 200 acres of land in the heart of Queens, land that exists in the form of a rail yard – and only a rail yard. But the fact is, those tracks could easily exist underground – allowing us to build housing – much of it affordable — above them.
At Sunnyside Yards, we envision a plan that incorporates what diverse and dynamic neighborhoods need — access to transportation, parks, schools, retail stores, and job opportunities. Now 200 acres is a lot of land. We know some parts of this site can easily handle larger buildings… and others can’t. So we’ll work closely with elected officials and community leaders to determine what makes sense.
Our approach is not entirely novel. Developments that prioritize affordability and livability HAVE been built before — from Starrett City to Co-Op City to Stuy Town, to the Big 6 towers in Woodside, Queens.
And these developments created affordability on a grand scale.
Stuy Town, when it opened in 1947 provided our city with 11,250 affordable apartments… a community where trees and parks, and shops dotted a landscape from which residents could actually see the sky.
We’re bringing that same kind of scale — and a real sense of urgency — to Sunnyside Yards…and setting the same exact goal of 11,250 affordable units, as part of a neighborhood that anyone would be proud to call home.
And in contrast to the recent history of Stuy Town, we’re going to make sure that affordable housing at Sunnyside Yards stays that way.
To paraphrase one of my former employers, it takes a village to build a neighborhood. So we look forward to partnering with Amtrak and the MTA in this extraordinary effort at Sunnyside Yards…”

Patricia Dorfman

“affordable housing” is the new euphemism apparently for “we can ruin your lives without your consent”…
•25 years of jobs for people who do not live here
•25 years of noise, dust and traffic for those who do
• hundreds of businesses displaced when rents shoot up around the new “city” (as elsewhere in nyc)
•thousands of current residents’ lives permanently disrupted
•permanent congestion
•not one community meeting asking for our opinion
•untold millions of dollars for those who will not suffer
•ignoring courageous local leaders who stood up to him
•ignoring areas of nyc asking for revitalization

this is frightening and backroom dealing at its worst, and is government against the consent of the governed: even you folks who disagree on other things, please sign this petition

Hoping for Hope

You are an idiot. Activists get deeply into issues and work their fingers to the bone without pay for the common good. Calling that an obsession belies a great deal of suspicion and unfounded animosity.

El loco

Hey Pat:

Not everyone is fortunate enough to live in Sunnyside a Gardens. Have you been looking in on Ethel?

43rd & 43rd

This is INSANE. Someone force Bill de Blasio to commute from Sunnyside/Woodside during rush hour for a week. The 7 can’t handle the riders it gets. Every car is completely jammed and there’s a failure almost every day. Adding 30,000 riders to the 7 is so impossible all you can do is laugh and cry.

JVB, if you do one thing for Sunnyside, please show Bill de Blasio how poor our infrastructure is. There is absolutely no way we can accept tens of thousands of people on the 7, even after the upgrades (aka total shutdowns every weekend that will continue for years).

43rd & 43rd

I also thought, JVB, when you bring De Blasio over for a visit . . . show him the Metropolitan/Cosmopolitan Houses on the south side. Filthy, run-down, and incredibly unsafe. Those were constructed the exact same way for the exact same reason, and they represent the future of this project. Maybe once he finds a few needles in the stairwells he’ll get the message.


They’re better be an overhaul in transportation. You cannot develop and not upgrade or expand current transportation services. Makes no sense.

Fix the main issue first then go on to the next.

Plopping buildings like it’s sim city over here.

Hoping for Hope

My idea is they figure to build first, start collecting the taxes from all those new people and businesses and then work on the infrastructure. The fact that everyone here now will be living a nightmare is of no concern to them.


now that i look at this article again i notice the quote from the Governor’s office. he’s right in that there is a ton of train traffic here that cannot be interrupted by construction. not just MTA either, Harold Interlocking is the busiest train junction in the whole country, servicing amtrak, MTA, NJ Transit, and various freight lines as well. no matter how much money is at stake for big-shot NYC developers, at the state and federal level all they see is the potential for delays along the whole eastern corridor. in fact harold interlocking is already a chokepoint and is about to get a major upgrade. i’d say decking over the yards can’t even start until that construction is completed. but…who knows…maybe they’ll get paid off too

Local Loco

Thank you very much for the info, very interesting. I’ll see If I can find any Info on Harold st. Thanks again.


no problem! it’s interesting stuff, makes me proud to live here. our little neighborhood is the most important part of the east coast rail network.

The Rope

As much as I would hate to see anything done there, there are big forces at play here. The Doctoroff op-ed was the nail in the coffin. DeBlasio sees this as his legacy – he’ll make sure this gets done.
We have to make sure we pressure our elected leaders to make sure whatever gets put there includes schools, parks and a subway line. (The feasibility study is a show – I guarantee you it’s already been done).
It has to be economically diverse – can’t be for millionaires and we dont want a ghetto.

Hoping for Hope

These people need to get their story straight. But I for one, will join any anti-DiBlasio rally anyone is planning. I’ve been on the fence for a while, but I just firmly planted my feet against him.


they’ve been talking about this for as long as i’ve lived here, but i knew when i saw doctoroff’s op-ed in the NY Times, that sealed the deal. that’s how you can tell…they drum up support in the “paper of record” and by that time it is too late to stop it.
11,000 units is a lot. isn’t that almost as big as sunnyside itself??


Any politico that thinks this project is a good idea, “One and Done” Diblasio, Gianaris, is already in the pockets of Amtrak and real estate developers. Also, 11,000 ‘Affordable’ units? We have seen what affordable means in LIC, it means that the avg middle class person/family makes ‘too much’ to live there. Also, rental prices increase pretty quickly. There will be no improvements to infrastructure (will they add a new track to the 7 train? N trains are just as packed), new park space will be minimal (as it makes developers zero $, wasted $pace) and where will all these new people park? (done expect free parking, more wasted $pace). Developers are salivating over the profits to be made. With this project the ‘Manhattanization” of Sunnyside would be complete. Question is, do the politicians with common sense, like JVB, CN have the power and influence to stop it? Because I felt that I didn’t have a good option to vote for in the last mayoral election, I wrote in “Peter Griffin” of Family Guy. Now that I see our city after a year plus under Diblasio’s belt, Peter Griffin would be a huge improvement over the moron currently residing in gracie mansion.

Anonymous visitor

1% (80,000) of the population will benefit of this while 99% will pay for it and our neighbourhoods will sufer. Did State Sen. Gianaris take the 7 yesterday? How did he come home?
#fail If this gets built I’ll move out.


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