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Van Bramer Takes de Blasio at His Word That Nothing is Imminent with Sunnyside Yards

Photo Courtesy: NYCEDC

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.”

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Lucky Lu

I’m concerned that the community is not given a voice in this. Before so much new affordable housing is built here, we must have commitment that infrastructure will come BEFORE that time. That means more public transportation, more green space, more traffic planning, more schools, etc. Are any of these aspects even being discussed at the meetings? I’m disappointed at the DiBlasio administration for leaving us out.


a large Park would be great. It would also be nice if Sunnyside could retain some of its charm and build housing without rich door poor door entrances …that whole concept is shameful and humiliating…what have things come to?


Right now, I’m more opposed to the fact that those stupid snowflakes have already gone up on Skillman and it isn’t even freaking November yet?????!!!! WTF?

Patricia Dorfman

van bramer’s principled stand is a fresh breeze in what often seems an airless back room poker game of which we told the wrong date and wrong location.

let’s get into that room where the game is being played and the chips are pieces of land in our neighborhood. we can’t afford to get into the game but we don’t want the game at all. we can peacefully interfere and stop it. the meetings are announced to give developers cover, but in a covert and disingenuous way. if the press learns of these meetings, why not announce them to all?

please let’s not assume as residents of queens we have no power in what happens here. the reason things happen in stealth about such matters is because a unified, spirited resistance from us would stop it. the reasons things happen we do not want is we are not paying attention, are too busy, apathetic, or feel powerless. we are not powerless at all.

the government exists through the consent of the governed. this is our most precious right. a free press and a concerned voter will always win if we stick together, show up and speak up. we are amazingly powerful.

many here seem resigned to the Yards being built over, as though it is the job of Queens once again to be the pressure release valve of Manhattan. if developers build more poorly built and profitable buildings, under the guise of affordable housing, yes, the units will be filled and our lives altered for the worse. build a bigger highway and more vehicles will use it. if a partial park is promised, it means that the rest of the land will be even more overbuilt for the investors to get their portions.

if we look around us at the new buildings going up, are any of them attractive, well built, spacious or desirable? no. the only reason they are here was not for any reason or than someone somewhere else wanted to make money at the expense of our quality of life. the richer people who are advocating overbuilding this area are smart and strong and would never allow such building in their own backyards. but we have one man one vote in theory and we can exercise it.

We are just as smart and strong.

Anonymous visitor

Sounds like its time for you to move to the country, I hear the Catskills are nice. New development happens everywhere the 5 boroughs of this city. There is no stopping it and regardless of what you and other liked minded dinasours think, it is desperately needed. Many structures in this city are over 100 years old and need to be replaced and reworked. What gives you the right to say I have my apartment, which due to government intervention I can have until the day I die at a an insanely low rent, so the hell with everyone else looking for a decent place to live!! How dare you, If the new buildings were so horrible why are they not empty??


Years ago Cathy Nolan sent out a poll asking it her constituents wanted the yards covered over. I sent it back with a definite no, except if it would be made into a public park. But parks don’t generate income.

Developers present themselves as Eagle Scouts to bargain for the rights. Once they have them, the mirage dissolves and we have among us a flock of vultures.

You guys fooled us once. It won’t happen again.


These yards will absolutely be developed, it’s foolish to think otherwise.
What they should be is a massive open green park, of course that will never happen. Companies are salivating over the land. That would mean intelligent urban planning for Queens, and we all know urban planning + queens are never in the same sentence.

Carl Weintraub

Sounds like Jimmy was napping again and when he woke the big boys didn’t invite him to the game.
Go back to cheerleader .


We barely even have garbage cans in this neighborhood. You think they are going to give us a multibillion dollar park?

The only reason the high line was built was because private developers were able to go in and build something that made money; that money they make is what supports the high line. While I’d love to have a park as much as the next person, it would realistically have to be a part of a larger structure like housing.

To act like this area is NEVER going to be built up is ridiculous – thats what cities do. People on here do realize that the neighborhood was farmland before it was built right?

I’d love to get as some decent urban planning in the area, as well as a larger focus on transportation if they are going to build in this area.

Anonymous visitor

I agree Krissi, It seems to me the bulk of the people on this board are hanging on to their $300 a month 2 or 3 bedroom RC/RS apt with white knuckles. Complaining about anything new and wanting unrealistic amounts of money spent for their enjoyment alone. Making that a park or public space would be absolutely cost prohibitive without housing and commercial development to pay the bills. Since they have been saving thousand of dollars each year for the past 30, 40 or 50 years by paying a rent that is about 10% of what it should be why don’t they put their money where their mouth is and start a foundation to purchase and maintain the suunyside yards as a park?? Of course they won’t they just want to log on and complain and demand even more entitlements. we need a park, we need this, we need that, but don’t build anything on that land that could pay for this and that.

Mary Caulfield

The communities of Sunnyside, Woodside and Dutch Kills would all be dramatically changed by development of the rail yards. For better or for worse, all the communities along its path have developed in relation to it. As New Yorkers we all contribute to the tax money used to keep the trains affordable and efficient for the communities of Long Island, the Manhattan businesses that employ them and the cities up and down the East Coast who pass through our neighborhoods on the way to far off cities. We in these westernmost Queens neighborhoods also have the noise, dust and disruptions. Our contribution to the convenience and affordability to the many, many more wealthy communities around us is heroic. We have a huge stake in those yards and our peace and convenience must be respected, too.

Thank God Jimmy Van Braemer has the courage to tell the truth to developers and railroads. Other community leaders have not defended the people who live here against those who would sweep them away in a frenzy of moneymaking.

Mike Novak

Who said DiB and his Admin knows ANYTHING about the plan?
DiB may be totally in the dark about this…after all…this proposed project is WAAAAY bigger than he is, and he WILL NOT be mayor when it it implemented.
Sadly, the “Backroom” of NYC Politics is a cesspool and there is just TOO MUCH MONEY to be made for this not to happen.

Novak Tells True

Good point, Mr. Novak. Good point. I hope and pray you are wrong, but I fear you are right.

Lucky Lu

No, I’m sorry Mr. Novak, but you’re wrong. According to this article, a spokesman for the mayor told Capital New York that the development could fit into the city’s affordable housing plan. Such a statement would indicate that they know something about it. And if they know something about it, then clearly some sort of communications or meetings took place.


I have my own personal disliker , I could say Jesus is good, puppys are cute and I love babies and that person will STILL dislike my comments . hahahha


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