BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
After Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to build thousands of affordable housing units over Sunnyside Yards, leaving many Western Queens residents apprehensive, the City is moving to investigate whether such a plan makes sense.
Sunnyside Yards is a roughly 180-acre open rail yard network owned mostly by Amtrak, with portions also claimed by the MTA, various private parties and the City. Last Friday, the City Economic Development Corporation opened a Request for Proposals calling for consultants to examine the engineering and financial feasibility of building over the Yards.
The RFP closes March 20 and was opened in collaboration with Amtrak and the Dept. of City Planning, among other agencies, according to NYCEDC.
“Sunnyside Yards presents an incredible opportunity to create affordable housing, quality jobs and community amenities in the heart of Queens. This feasibility study represents the first step in the process,” NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball said in a statement.
The RFP follows a plan floated by Mayor Bill de Blasio during his State of the City address, to build 11,000 affordable housing units at the site, which met some pushback and skepticism from local elected officials and community members.
Chairman Pat O’Brien of Community Board 2 – the district where the Yards sits – told the Queens Tribune at the time, “the goal is admirable, it really is. But the complexity of what’s being proposed is really daunting.”
“This initiative requires some really careful planning, because it will have the effect of exponentially increasing the population that’s already been increased enormously, and the infrastructure and the systems there, they’re not sufficient,” O’Brien added.
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Sunnyside), who had been critical of the Mayor’s Sunnyside Yards plan since he announced it, released a statement following the opening of the RFP.
“I remain concerned that any attempt by Mayor de Blasio’s administration to develop Sunnyside Yards faces environmental, developmental and density issues that has the potential to tremendously damage the middle class quality of life of our western Queens communities,” Nolan said. “I will be vigilant in monitoring the actions of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.”
In a statement released with the RFP announcement, de Blasio described the feasibility study as “the first step in understanding whether development of the Sunnyside Yards is possible, and what it could contribute to the City and surrounding communities.”
NYCEDC will host an information session on the feasibility study on March 3 at 2 p.m. at 110 William St. in Manhattan.
The RFP can be viewed at www.nycedc.com/opportunity/sunnyside-yards-feasibility-study-consultant-services-rfp.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.