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Queens Chronicle

Sunnyside rail project can work for city: EDC

Queens Chamber told that overbuild is technically and financially possible

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Posted: Thursday, June 8, 2017 10:30 am

When the New York City Economic Development Corp. released a feasibility study on building over sections of the Sunnyside Yard railroad facility in February, EDC officials knew they would have a massive public outreach campaign ahead of them.

On Tuesday morning, Nate Bliss, senior vice president at the EDC, was doing just that at a breakfast hosted by the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“I think this is 50, 51?” Bliss said to more than 40 people gathered the Bulova Corporate Conference Center in Jackson Heights, recalling how many meetings he’s had on the plan.

The 209-page study lays out the case for erecting apartment buildings, office towers, schools, commercial and open space on platforms that could be constructed above 70 acres of the 180-acre site, which has been a rail yard since 1910.

Portions of the yard are controlled by Amtrak, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New Jersey Transit. All work would be done while allowing a fully operational rail yard to continue, and the EDC back in February estimated the cost at between $16 and $19 billion.

But the EDC, with plenty of support from City Hall, believes such a project is doable both from technical and economic aspects, and worth examining further.

“It isn’t often that you can come across 180 acres to develop in New York City,” Bliss said. He said the potential for job growth and economic development are huge.

“They are talking about New York becoming a city of 9 million people in the next decades,” he said, with a Sunnyside Yard overbuild creating much needed housing.

Based on priorities, such a project could bring 14,000 to 24,000 residential units to the site over time. Bliss said the study accounts for the space and money needed for the schools, roadways and green space that would be required.

He also said much more extensive studies would have to be made of just how to tie in to existing infrastructure and amenities.

He said, for example, several subway lines and bus routes are adjacent to the land, as is the Long Island Rail Road. The first trick would be access.

“And those subway lines are already at capacity,” he said.

Tom Grech, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, moderated a question-and-answer session in the meeting. He was looking forward to the presentation before it even started.

“This isn’t an endorsement of the project,” he said. “There are some things where I believe our job is to shed light on things. We recently had a meeting with the supporters of Queensway and the Queens Rail project.” Both want to use the 3-mile stretch that used to carry the Long Island Rail Road between Rockaway Beach and Rego Park.

Grech said the chamber will subject the proposal and possible variations extensively within its land use and legislative committees and would likely try to craft a consensus of its members.

The illustrated 209-page report and a 22-page summary can be read or downloaded online at nycedc.com/project/sunnyside-yards.

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1 comment:

  • tim posted at 1:49 pm on Thu, Jul 13, 2017.

    tim Posts: 1

    Dose anybody have an idea when will the date to be announced for the final award of the project?