Oct. 30, 2014 By Christian Murray
The revelation last week that Amtrak is considering developing the Sunnyside Yards caught most people by surprise—including Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
Last Thursday, Amtrak’s Chairman Anthony Coscia spoke at a real estate conference and then told reporters that he had been in talks with the de Blasio and Cuomo administrations about developing the Sunnyside Yards, Capital New York reported.
“I think we are all concerned [about these statements],” Van Bramer said over the weekend. “I am also very concerned that any conversation would have taken place without the involvement of me or the community.”
However, he said, no one knows exactly what has been discussed at this time. “I have requested a meeting with Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen [who was involved in the Amtrak discussions] and others in senior positions in the administration.”
A spokesman for the mayor told Capital New York that building on the yards could fit in to the city’s ambitious affordable housing plan—which calls for construction of 80,000 affordable units over the next decade—but cautioned nothing is imminent.
Furthermore, Amtrak is reportedly looking to sell off some of its real estate holdings and views the yards as a big moneymaker.
“Right now I take the de Blasio administration at its word that nothing is imminent,” Van Bramer said. Furthermore, “I think decking over the yards here or anywhere in the vicinity of Sunnyside or Woodside is not in the best interest of these communities.”
He said the decision as to what happens to Sunnyside Yards is ultimately determined by the city. As the councilman of the district where the Sunnyside Yards are located, he said he has significant influence.
“There has been a lot of thinking about the future of the yards for decades,” he said. “People have always been fantasizing over the yards. Ideas have been floated from conventions centers, to stadiums to housing.”