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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 2:01 AM
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Smile NEW YORK | Sunnyside Yards

Creating this separate thread for a development that could overtake the Hudson Yards thread.

Sunnyside Yards in Queens has always been talked about as a potential site for everything from housing to stadiums, and convention centers.

But now with both the mayor of New York - Bill de Blasio, and the governor of New York - Andrew Cuomo, both homing in on Sunnyside Yards as the next mega-development in the city,
the discussion has begun. What should be built over the yards? One obvious answer would be housing, but the question is how should it be built, and what along with it?

As the mayor and governor play a little tug of war over the site, the formation of a plan begins.

But first, an overview of the site, courtesy of GoogleEarth...


Sunnyside Yards


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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 2:06 AM
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Originally Posted by NYguy View Post
Now, this is something that seems like it may have a chance...


http://www.capitalnewyork.com/articl...eens-rail-yard

Amtrak weighing development of massive Queens rail yard









By Ryan Hutchins
Oct. 23, 2014




http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/op...f=opinion&_r=1

New York’s Next Big Thing




Sunnyside Yards in Queens, which could hold the kind of convention center the city needs.


By DANIEL L. DOCTOROFF
NOV. 28, 2014


Quote:
NEW YORK is the most diverse, dynamic city on Earth.

More than 55 million people are projected to visit this year, bringing with them a total economic impact of more than $60 billion and supporting about 350,000 jobs.

We are an undisputed leader in tourism, yet we lag badly in one important aspect: the huge convention and conference business.
Nationwide, conventions add nearly $400 billion to our gross domestic product, and employment in the industry is set to grow 33 percent through 2022. Sadly, New York ranks 64th globally in this business, leaving tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars on the table — resources that could fund better schools, parks and affordable housing.

New York struggles for two main reasons. First, of course, is price. With the average Manhattan hotel room costing nearly $300 per night, we are pricing ourselves out of the market for many major conventions. Then there is the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Located on Manhattan’s Far West Side, Javits was unloved practically from the moment it opened. It’s too small for many events and can’t compete with facilities in other cities.

Fortunately, there’s a solution — one that would not only address our lack of competitiveness in the conventions and conferences business, but would also catalyze the transformation of two neighborhoods and make a meaningful dent in our affordable housing crisis. The best part is that we can do this all without costing taxpayers a dime.

The key is to replace the Javits Center. There’s been talk over the years of expanding it, but that won’t solve the affordability problem. Fortunately, the perfect undeveloped location for a new convention center exists at Sunnyside Yards, the more than 160-acre rail yard that carves a nasty scar through the heart of Queens.

Sunnyside Yards is adjacent to Long Island City, a neighborhood that has blossomed in recent years with new residents and businesses, including nearly 20 new hotels since 2007, with almost as many currently under construction or in the planning stages. The average hotel room rate in Queens is less than half that of Manhattan; a convention center on the border of Long Island City would go a long way toward solving the affordability problem that holds the Javits Center back.

Long Island City is also one of the most convenient, transit-friendly areas in the city, served by eight subway lines. The Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak pass through and park their trains there. Even New Jersey Transit stores its trains in Sunnyside. From my office one block south of Bloomingdale’s in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, I can get to Long Island City by subway in just one stop, and eight minutes flat.

Given the neighborhood’s many advantages, redeveloping Sunnyside Yards seems obvious — but the biggest barrier has always been the multibillion-dollar cost of building a platform over the train tracks that can allow the trains to run while accommodating large construction. The cost has always made the idea a nonstarter, but times — and real estate values — have changed. Stronger market conditions bring us closer to feasibility, but the numbers for building the platform still don’t add up unless we get creative.

That’s why we should relocate the Javits Center to Sunnyside, sell the extremely valuable property the Javits Center owns, and use the proceeds to pay for it.

In addition to a state-of-the-art convention center that would be 3.1 million square feet rather than the 1.8 million at Javits, the platform and adjacent rezoned areas would provide the foundation for a dynamic new neighborhood, accommodating nearly 14,000 new units of housing, of which about 50 percent would be affordable; more than two million square feet of office and retail space; several hotels to support convention visitors; vast expanses of public green space; a job-creating technology campus; and a new transit center. Convention visitors would have convenient places to stay at affordable rates.

One objection might be that a convention center must be in Manhattan to attract blockbuster conferences. Let’s put that old way of thinking aside. The ExCeL exhibition center in London, about five miles from the city’s core, has catalyzed nearly $5 billion in economic impact and supported 31,000 jobs. Sunnyside Yards is far closer to Midtown.

The land under the Javits Center would be rezoned for housing. More than 11,000 units could be developed there, of which 20 percent would be affordable. Between the redevelopments of the Sunnyside and Javits sites, more than 25,000 units of desperately needed housing could be created, of which more than 9,000 would be affordable. That could make a major contribution to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s admirable and ambitious housing plan.

Getting anything done in New York is hard. The bigger it is, the harder it gets. And the Javits to Sunnyside move is very big. Total estimated costs for the platform, the convention center and the related open space and infrastructure would be about $8 billion, according to an analysis done for me by SHoP Architects and HR&A Advisors. But the beauty of this plan is that it can all be financed at no new net cost to taxpayers. The Javits property could be sold for about $4 billion. The incremental real estate tax revenues from the new developments on both the Sunnyside and existing Javits sites would roughly pay for the difference.

Almost all of the land required to make this happen is owned by either the State of New York or by Amtrak. The Amtrak chairman, Anthony R. Coscia, indicated recently that Amtrak was considering the development potential of its holdings in the Sunnyside Yards. Still, it is Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo who controls all of the Javits site and much of the portion of Sunnyside Yards not owned by Amtrak.

Too often in New York, we get stuck in the tired paradigm of choosing between development and affordability. If we plan smartly, development can finance affordable housing, and affordability will attract greater diversity, which makes the city even more appealing to new residents and businesses.

Daniel L. Doctoroff is the chief executive officer of Bloomberg L.P. and chairman of Culture Shed, a cultural institution that will open in 2018. He was New York City’s deputy mayor for economic development.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 2:07 AM
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http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/...icle-1.2036405

New proposal suggests moving Javits Center to Queens in a bid to increase convention business, affordable housing




A new development proposal suggests relocating the Javits Center (pictured) from Manhattan to Queens.







BY LARRY MCSHANE
December 6, 2014


Quote:
Goodbye, West Side. Hello, Sunnyside.

A dramatic new development proposal suggests adding 1.3 million square feet to the Javits Center — right after relocating the whole place 21/2 miles east into Queens.

The plan would use state-owned land on Manhattan’s West Side and Sunnyside in Queens to create a new convention center in the outer borough while spawning new housing in both boroughs.

It would be, according to its proponents, the largest development project in city history: 31 million square of space on 192 acres, constructed across three decades.

.....With the Javits Center gone, seven blocks of state-owned property would open for construction of new housing. The money generated there would finance the Sunnyside platform and the $8 billion Exhibition and Convention Center.

The new center would provide an anchor for creating a Queens neighborhood above the rail yards — complete with new homes, office space, parks and up to 5,000 hotel rooms for convention guests.

.....The proposal would signal a sad farewell for the Javits, opened with much ballyhoo in 1986.

In its place would come a mixed-used neighborhood with commercial development along Eleventh Ave., complete with condominiums and residential rentals on an 18-acre parcel of land.

A design sketch shows a dozen or more tall buildings springing up on the West Side.

No one is suggesting the process will be simple. The Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, launched in 2003, needed nearly a decade to open Barclays Center.




















Daily News editorial...



http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/e...icle-1.2035624

Think big, gentlemen
The Javits to Sunnyside plan makes sense






December 7, 2014


Quote:
Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio may very well have the opportunity to create a historically ambitious housing and commercial development for New York City — at an extraordinarily low cost to taxpayers.

Led by the governor, the two officials must assemble a working group to evaluate a newly formulated plan for producing more than 25,000 units of housing in Manhattan and Queens — with 10,000 of them pegged as affordable — along with a convention center designed to lure major events that now bypass the city.


The scheme is the brainchild of Dan Doctoroff, a deputy mayor in the Bloomberg administration, and former city planner Vishaan Chakrabarti of ShoP Architects, the firm that designed the Barclays Center.

On first review, their plan has more than enough credibility to demand intense consideration.

The heart of the proposal calls for unlocking the untapped, multi-billion-dollar value of the state-owned land beneath the Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s West Side.

Outmoded and too small for the biggest shows, Javits would be torn down to make way for housing and commerce in the area between 11th and 12th Aves. from W. 33rd to W. 40th Sts.

Revenues generated by the development would finance construction of a replacement convention center and housing on a second tract of underutilized state-owned land: Sunnyside Yard in Queens.

At 192 acres , the rail yard is an immense dead zone in Long Island City. Without an enormous infusion of capital, it will remain a wasted asset.

The central premise of Doctoroff's plan is that the Manhattan side of the plan would throw off more than $8 billion, enabling construction of the new convention center and affordable housing on a platform over the rail tracks.


The scheme also reckons that Sunnyside Yard would be an ideal location for conventions, with seven subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road connecting there after brief rides from Manhattan, and Amtrak passing through.

By all rights, Cuomo and de Blasio should jump at studying the West Side-Sunnyside concept.

Cuomo recognized the need to replace Javits when he broached a plan early in his administration to build a convention center at Aqueduct Racetrack, far more distant and with only a fraction of the mass transit. He understands the need for major infrastructure projects — especially if they are self-financing.

De Blasio has focused on affordable housing. The units promised here would represent a major plus for working- and middle-class New Yorkers. Again, with limited drain on the public treasury.

Cuomo, as owner of the properties at play, and de Blasio, as the mayor who would guide zoning and planning, must jointly test the economic fundamentals of creating two boomtowns that would stand as proud monuments in their legacies.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 2:12 AM
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http://observer.com/2015/02/de-blasi...-plan-details/

De Blasio Heralds Sunnyside Yards as Next Stuy-Town, Unveils Other Housing Details





By Kim Velsey
02/03/15


Quote:
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at the State of the City address this morning that he intends to build 11,250 affordable housing units at Sunnyside Yards—the same as the number as at Stuy-Town and Peter Cooper Village. At 200 acres, Sunnyside Yards is one of the largest undeveloped parcels in New York City, but one that presents myriad difficulties to developers as it remains an active rail yard in use by several train companies.

Mr. de Blasio compared the Sunnyside Yards plan to post-war affordable housing projects like Starrett City and Co-op City and said that it would be a “a game-changer” with enough affordable housing for “over 30,000 New Yorkers.” And unlike Stuy-Town, he said, “we’re going to make sure that affordable housing at Sunnyside Yards stays affordable.”

Mr. de Blasio said that rail tracks could be placed underground such that housing could be built on top—a process which is being undertaken at Hudson Yards, but in that case with the financial backing of developers eager to cash in on commercial rents—though he admitted that “some parts could more easily handle larger buildings being built there and some could not.”

It was yet another ambitious facet in Mr. de Blasio’s very ambitious affordable housing plan to build or preserve 200,000 units within the next decade and comes with surprisingly precise details given the nascent stage of the process.

The city is partnering with Amtrak, which owns the yards, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to conduct a feasibility study, Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic development, told reporters after the mayor’s speech, which she called the first step in seeing if such a project could be completed.

The governor’s office, meanwhile, was critical of the announcement, writing in a statement that “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 State and the MTA are studying several potential future uses of the site from a long term planning prospective.”



e Real Estate Board (the powerful developers) are ready to build, and will push to get this done on both fronts.



http://www.rew-online.com/2015/02/03...ng-to-do-list/

Bold de Blasio adds 160,000 units to housing ‘to do’ list


By Dan Orlando
February 3, 2014


Quote:
The Real Estate Board of New York yesterday (Tuesday) applauded Mayor de Blasio’s call to strengthen his affordable housing plan by a further 160,000 units.

Calling the decision “bold,ˮ REBNY president Steve Spinola said the mayor’s call for an additional 160,000 market-rate units, above and beyond the 200,000 affordable units the administration plans to build or preserve over the next decade, “will go a long way to keeping New York the greatest city in the world in which to live, work, and raise a family.”

De Blasio began his campaign by promising the original 200,000 units of affordable living space, but Tuesday’s demand for a new wave of market rate properties is an answer to the dwindling supply and surging prices that face the city’s residential marketplace.

“Building more new market rate and affordable housing, and preserving and enhancing our current inventory of affordable housing is the only way to address our decades-long housing shortage,” said Spinola.

During his address, de Blasio warned, “If we fail to be a city for everyone, we risk losing what makes New York, New York. And nothing more clearly expresses the inequality gap — the opportunity gap — than the soaring cost of housing.ˮ

Kathryn Wylde, president & CEO of the Partnership for New York City, commented, “The high volume of affordable housing production achieved during the Koch era was the result of robust public-private partnerships.

“A collaborative approach is even more important today since city government has little inventory of cheap land and construction costs have skyrocketed. While it was not explicit in the Mayor’s speech, I trust his administration understands that forging partnerships with the development and financial industries is the only way to accomplish his housing goals.”

At the time of the most recent census (2012), the median household income amongst Manhattan residence stood at just under $67,000 per year. The average rents for the borough eclipsed $3,000 per month.

Up against slightly more modest rents, Brooklyn and Queens saw median household incomes of $44,850 and $54,373 respectively.

The highest household income belonged to the suburban Staten Island, which barely eclipsed $70,000 per year.

“Without such bold initiatives, the City’s housing market will tighten further and become even more expensive,” said Spinola. “Our industry stands ready to work with the mayor and other stakeholders to put shovels in the ground and cranes in the sky to tackle this important goal.”
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 2:13 AM
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Cuomo returns to Sunnyside Yards convention center idea

Tess Hofmann
February 5/2015

Quote:
The idea of a massive Queens convention center that would replace the West Side’s Jacob Javits Center has foundered before, but now Governor Andrew Cuomo appears to be returning to the concept in the face of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s designs to build affordable housing in the Sunnyside neighborhood.

Wednesday morning, the day after de Blasio proposed building a Stuyvesant Town-sized affordable housing development on a platform above Sunnyside Yards in Queens, Cuomo said that the plan is complicated and expensive and that he is considering alternatives, according to Capital New York.

“There have been a number of uses proposed,” the governor said. “One of them is to make that a convention center site to supplement the Javits convention center, which is on the west side of Manhattan, or replace the Javits Center on the West Side of Manhattan. And that’s one of the possibilities that is being studied, along with several other possible scenarios.”

Cuomo appears to be referencing former Bloomberg CEO Dan Doctoroff’s proposal to replace the 1.8 million-square-foot Javits Center with a 3.1 million-square-foot convention center in Sunnyside Yards, and partially fund the project with 25,000 housing units, 9,000 of which would be affordable, that would be built on both the old and new convention center sites.

While Doctoroff has put a $5.6 billion price tag on his proposal, De Blasio has not yet delved into specifics for his plan. - See more at: http://therealdeal.com/blog/2015/02/....KNAWBHMJ.dpuf



http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article...unnyside-yards

Mayor to guv: 'Plenty of room' at Sunnyside Yards





ANDREW J. HAWKINS
FEBRUARY 4, 2015


Quote:
After Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly dismissed the idea of building 11,250 units of affordable housing on top of Sunnyside Yards, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday he is confident the project will get done.

"I think we're going to find a way forward here," Mr. de Blasio said in a radio interview with WNYC's Brian Lehrer.

He noted that Amtrak, the largest landowner at the 200-acre site in western Queens, is supportive of his idea of decking over the rail yards and building affordable housing on top, and that the city owns air rights on 44 of the acres owned by the state-controlled Metropolitan Transportation Authority.


"Look, I think as we talk to the governor's folks, as we talk to the MTA, we'll find our way toward the kind of vision that works for everyone," he added. "They have other things they think are a priority for that site. There's plenty of room on that site."

Less than an hour after Mr. de Blasio proposed a massive residential development at Sunnyside Yards, a spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo released a statement calling the site "an important facility for our transportation system" that is "not available for any other use in the near term."

Mr. Cuomo reiterated his concerns in a Wednesday interview with NY1. "Sunnyside Yards is problematic," he said. "But I agree with the mayor's overall thrust [on housing] and I applaud him for it."

The governor isn't the only one expressing doubt about the project. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the site, told The Wall Street Journal Tuesday that he would "never" support the construction of high-density housing in the portion of the rail yards buttressing the Sunnyside neighborhood.

Late Tuesday, Amtrak released a statement saying, "We are working with the city and others to understand what potential exists for this incredibly unique site and recognize and support the mayor's strong interest in advancing affordable housing as part of any major new development."

Nothing will happen soon. Amtrak has said it doesn't expect to conduct a feasibility study until 2016. And the cost of decking over the site could be enormous. Constructing a platform over a portion of the much smaller 26-acre Hudson Yards in western Manhattan is expected to cost upward of $700 million.

After the State of the City speech Tuesday, the mayor's aides acknowledged the long road ahead for the project.

"Sunnyside Yards is a very complicated site," said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. "The first thing the city will be doing is using our own resources to go out and solicit that first step in the feasibility study, which will allow us to all have a common framework around which we can plan this amazing opportunity."

Community opposition, much like that which stalled the Atlantic Yards project for years, is anticipated, she said.

"I don't know if we can ever avoid all the lawsuits," said Ms. Glen. "But I do think our approach is fundamentally very different. Simultaneously while we're doing the engineering and feasibility work, we're already convening local elected officials and a wide array of stakeholders."

The project could avoid one of the major criticisms about Atlantic Yards: the use of eminent domain. Ms. Glen said the controversial practice of taking private property is "currently not contemplated" for the project because only 23 acres of the site are privately held.

On WNYC, as he did in his speech Tuesday, the mayor likened the project to the construction of Stuyvesant Town, which opened in 1947, calling the East Side project "the kind of housing that working-class and middle-class people were able to depend on for a generation in New York City."

"There's greenery, the buildings aren't too high, it's the right balance," he said. "We can do that on a plot of land, 200 acres. You can do that and do a lot of other good things, too."
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 2:24 AM
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The number of bridges and rail flyovers in the area would make this site very complex to develop. It would probably take at least a billion just to get the infrastructure to a point where you could even START construction on the actual platform and buildings. I'm not sure how that level of expense could ever be paid off with affordable housing and a convention center. The Eastern half of the yards might be possible, but the West half looks too complex and small to justify the expense.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 3:17 AM
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Lots of potential. This is the scarce land that developers like to develop a mini city. I can see this complementing the future DoBro like skyline of LIC. Something like this could have 40,000 units of housing if not more depending on how dense it is. Well, thats it they built Shenzhen style which has many developments on sites like this or larger. Hopefully the city thinks big, this is a rare opportunity like the HY.

This is probably 6 years if not more from a platform even starting, if it does.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 3:56 AM
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Originally Posted by BrownTown View Post
The number of bridges and rail flyovers in the area would make this site very complex to develop. It would probably take at least a billion just to get the infrastructure to a point where you could even START construction on the actual platform and buildings. I'm not sure how that level of expense could ever be paid off with affordable housing and a convention center. The Eastern half of the yards might be possible, but the West half looks too complex and small to justify the expense.

That's becuase you're only focusing on 2 potential components of the development. Trust that there are many minds involved here, if the numbers don't work, it won't get done.



Quote:
Originally Posted by chris08876 View Post
Lots of potential. This is the scarce land that developers like to develop a mini city. I can see this complementing the future DoBro like skyline of LIC. Something like this could have 40,000 units of housing if not more depending on how dense it is. Well, thats it they built Shenzhen style which has many developments on sites like this or larger. Hopefully the city thinks big, this is a rare opportunity like the HY.

This is probably 6 years if not more from a platform even starting, if it does.
Even that may be a ltitle optimistic, but it depends on what is getting built, and who is doing the building. Obviously this won't be a job for one developer, and would be built in phases. It's a development large enough to swallow both Hudson and Atlantic Yards.

It took years before Hudson Yards could begin, and that was after a plan was in place, for which the city will embark on a study before anything is formulated with any certainty. But this is how things get done. You can just pull an idea out of your head on a development this complex and say "this is exactly what and how it's going to be". That's why de Blasio had no concrete details.

But the talk of building housing had me thinking of some other developments in the city that happened over railyards, and I remember Concourse Village in the Bronx. This is a good read that gives an idea of the effort for such an undertaking...



http://www.startsandfits.com/?p=255

A South Bronx Rail Yard Is Reborn





February 6, 2011 by AD


Quote:

Much attention over the past decade has been given to two huge development projects that are underway to build above rail yards in the far west side of Manhattan and at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.

In the midst of all of the excitement and controversy that these projects have generated, it is easy to overlook the fact that building on top of New York City rail yards has happened before. The construction of many skyscrapers in the east 40s above the rail yards leading to Grand Central Terminal is fairly well known. Much less known is a similar effort in the South Bronx’s civic district that has resulted in homes for 4,000 people, six public school buildings serving nearly 4,000 children, about 235,000 square feet of office space and 77,700 more coming soon, a supermarket, neighborhood stores, a food court, and at least 1,806 parking spaces. Let’s have a look at how this has come together.

The land in question was previously the site of the Mott Haven Rail Yard a/k/a the Melrose Yard, built by the New York Central Railroad c. 1873 and used to store and maintain freight cars, passenger coaches and locomotives. It is located south of East 161st Street between Morris Avenue to the east and Sheridan Avenue to the west, and as far south as the wye where Metro-North’s Harlem Line and the Hudson Line converge. The railroad graded the land to fit the nearby rail lines, making it 15 to 40 feet below the adjacent streets, a fact that greatly influenced the future development.

The yard helped support the New York Central’s mighty regional transportation network, with rail lines throughout the Northeast and deep into the Midwest. However, the yard was effectively a barrier between the Melrose neighborhood to the east and what today is the Grand Concourse area to the west, save for one bridge spanning the yard at 153rd Street. Starting in 1961 and continuing to today, five waves of development have thoroughly transformed this site, helping to weave together the previously sundered urban fabric. Today no trace of the rail yard remains, except for the outline it left behind in the form of the buildings that have replaced it, and the railroad’s Melrose Central Building at the southwest corner of Morris Avenue and East 161st Street, now occupied by city-run social service offices.

Wave 1: Concourse Village (1965)




The first development to take place above the rail yard was a middle-income housing development known as Concourse Village. It was originally intended to be an enormous housing development that would have blanketed the entire yards, all the way south to 150th Street, with 20 towers of each 25 stories tall. Ultimately, however, only about a quarter of that was built. An early report indicated that the railroad leased its air rights for $750,000 per year for 60 years, although later reports indicated that it was paid $7 million, presumably up front, by the project’s sponsor, the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America.

Either way, most of the construction financing came from the New York State Housing Finance Agency, which issued a $30 million loan (later rising to $36.2 million), at that time the state’s largest loan ever for housing restricted to middle-income households. The brick-and-mortar results of the ambitious transaction outlived either the railroad underneath, which merged out of existence a few years after the towers were complete, or the union, which merged in 1979 with another union to form the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and has long since gotten out of the housing business.

The first phase of the housing, the only one to be built, was approved by the City Planning Commission in October 1960 and was projected to cost $31 million. The four phases were to begin construction every six months in 1961 and 1962. The fourth phase, to be underway as of the second half of 1962, was to be a shopping center. (As it happened, that section did get built, but decades later than originally conceived. More on that below.)

The part of Concourse Village that was built and survives to this day consists of six leviathan 25-story slab towers with 1,875 apartments, all clad in 1960s white brick and organized around a 470-space surface parking lot. This is the quintessential tower-in-the-parking-lot, cataclysmic-style development that fell way, way out of fashion after Jane Jacobs’ Death and Life of Great American Cities, which came out the same year that the concrete and iron stilts were hammered in between the still active rails for this development. It is built on a platform over what at that time was still an active rail yard. The platform was built by the Cauldwell-Wingate Company, which was simultaneously using similar techniques to build the 50-story tower, now occupied by JPMorganChase, at 277 Park Avenue, over the tracks leading to Grand Central.

The buildings started out as “integrated” housing – mixing white, black and Hispanic families. When it was first built, the Grand Concourse to the west was largely a white neighborhood, while Melrose to the east was African-American and Puerto Rican. As of 1967, the buildings were 68 percent white. But the buildings were built just at the moment that large scale white flight from the Bronx was beginning, including along the nearby Grand Concourse. By 2000, the buildings were 82% black, according to census data. Even from the beginning, whites’ allegiance to the buildings was tenuous, with some early depositors backing out when learning they’d be living in “integrated housing.”

After the initial nervousness and slow co-op sales, the State declined to finance the second residential phase of the project.

There was also some early grumbling about lack of schools, which was soon to be remedied. One factor that helped fill out the buildings was the promise of new adjacent schools, completed in 1972.

Wave 2: Two Schools (1972)





There is less information available about the second wave of development, two school buildings on the south side of 156th Street. The two buildings have different shapes, but identical architecture, so I am assuming they were built at basically the same time. There is no certificate of occupancy on the Buildings Department website for the school on the east, but the school on the west, at 750 Concourse Village West (Sheridan Avenue) was completed in November 1972 according to its final certificate of occupancy, which is dated January 1978. The building on the west housed P.S. 156 (the Benjamin Banneker School) until the school closed in 2008. Today the building houses two elementary schools, the Performance School (605 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade) and the Global Learning Institute for Girls (154 students in kindergarten through fifth grade). The building on the east, at 250 East 156th Street, houses P.S. 31, the William Lloyd Garrison School (667 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade), and I.S. 151, the Henry Lou Gehrig School, (282 students in sixth grade through eighth). Together, these two buildings house four schools that enroll 1,708 students.

Many years went by before the next wave of development took place. In fact, it was 10 years after the ink dried on the certificate of occupancy for P.S. 156 that the new building permit for the next wave was filed. This wouldn’t surprise anyone even casually familiar with the history of the Bronx. This period involved the previously mentioned white flight. Notions of planned shrinkage. Redlining. Benign neglect. Every catch phrase for public-sector and private-sector policies that encouraged people to leave the Bronx for the suburbs. As a result, it was the decade the Fire Department knew as the War Years: abandonment, decay, and fires.

During these years, the area at the north end of the former rail yard was used as an 800-space parking lot for baseball fans attending games at Yankee Stadium, five blocks to the west – a hopelessly marginal use for such central land.

Wave 3: Concourse Plaza Shopping Center and Office Tower (1998)





Enter Bernard J. Rosenshein, a developer who had grown up on Gerard Avenue between 164th and 165th Streets, a short walk from the site, who understood the retail potential in what was by now a woefully underserved neighborhood. In 1988, he began building the Concourse Plaza Shopping Center and a 10-story, 200,000-square-foot office tower at 198 East 161st Street that houses the Bronx District Attorney’s offices, offices for the Bronx Borough President, and others.

The shopping center is anchored to the east by a large supermarket, originally Waldbaums and now Bogopa/Food Bazaar, that is tucked in behind the Melrose Central Building. The western anchor is a food court and 3,300-seat multiplex movie theater. All told, there are 32 businesses arrayed suburban-style around a surface parking lot for 251 cars (though most of the spaces are empty most of the time), and sitting atop two levels of parking below street level for another 957 cars. Up above the first floor of stores, there’s a second floor housing social security offices.

Building all of this was a massive 10-year undertaking, requiring at least two levels of concrete and steel just to bring the “ground floor” up to the level of the adjacent ground. At least part of the shopping plaza opened for business in 1991 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring the Borough President. But the plaza was not completed, in the eyes of the Buildings Department, until February 1998. The tower serves as a nice counterpoint to the Melrose Central Building, with the each building anchoring one end of the plaza.

This shopping center represents a revival of plans initially laid out more than two decades earlier with the development of Concourse Village. It is now owned by the Feil Organization, New York City-based owner of suburban strip malls across the country and New York City apartment buildings.

So by the completion of Concourse Plaza, the former rail yards site now supports apartments, retail, offices, and schools. And in the next wave of development, it came to support even more schools. A lot more.




Wave 4: Mott Haven Campus (2010)


In December 2004, Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan to build the four new schools to serving 2,000 students at the southern end of the former rail yard. The goal was to reduce overcrowding in Bronx schools. Whereas the first three waves of development were elevated above the former rail yards through steel and concrete stilts, this is the first wave of development to be built directly on the former rail yards.

The city pledged $30 million to remediate the soil to eliminate toxins left by the former use as a rail yard, including: mercury, lead, benzene, and tetrachloroethylene. Two years later, the City Council stalled the plan over concerns about local autonomy in admissions and independent testing over the levels of toxins on site. In January 2007 the City Council allowed construction to proceed after the City agreed to the independent testing. But then in April 2007 a coalition sued the City, saying it wasn’t doing enough. The lawsuit, decided in October 2008, required the School Construction Authority to create a long-term environmental monitoring plan.

Ultimately that plan was created and the schools were built. Mayor Bloomberg and other elected officials visited the site on September 1, 2010, to cut the ribbon on the complex. Together, these schools are providing space for 1,938 students. They are the largest project ever undertaken by the New York City School Construction Authority. Just as the site’s second wave of schools expansion was wrapping up, its second wave of office expansion was beginning.

Wave 5: Concourse Plaza Office Tower II (Construction Underway)




The office tower built in the 1990s at Concourse Plaza Shopping Center is reportedly completely filled to capacity, indicating unfilled demand for office space in this part of the Bronx. Reinforcing that reality is nearby Victorian style houses that have been converted into offices. In order to meet the demand for office space, Concourse Plaza’s new owners, Feil, are building a glassy second office tower with about 69,000 square feet of space at the site’s southwest corner. A construction consultant notes that the project has its own extra challenges because it is being built above utility lines that service the existing shopping center, of which it will soon be a part. At this writing, that construction is proceeding with an estimated completion date that is months away.

One of the things that has always bothered me about most tower-in-the-park(ing lot) style developments is that they replaced perfectly good urban fabric that in many ways was superior to the towers. That’s not the case here. Nothing was demolished to make way for Concourse Village, since it was built in the air.

So without the nagging desire to mourn what was demolished, does this instance of towers-in-the-park stand on its own as an improvement to what had come before it? Could it have been better? Answers to those subjective questions can only come from the beholder. In my opinion, the surface parking fronting 161st Street gets relatively little use. Had it been hidden behind the buildings, the retail would have been more attractive to the many pedestrians using 161st Street. I am glad to see that the Mott Haven Campus does not waste any space on parking, when there are ample subway and bus lines nearby, along with copious private parking lots and garages.

In some ways, it is sad that there is no longer the demand for rail yard space at this location, but that is one small result of changes taking place at a much broader level. All in all, at the neighborhood scale, this has been a worthwhile multi-decade effort.

One wonders what the next wave of development for this site will be. With the recent up-zoning of 161st Street, one of the most attractive building parcels is the Concourse Plaza parking lot. I’d say that will be the first piece to be built upon in the next building boom.


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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 5:41 AM
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Several random and outside the box thoughts I have on this...

- I'd hate to move a convention center out of Manhattan since that is the center of the business community but if they can really get 4 of 8 billion needed from selling the property, it'd be hard not to give strong consideration to the idea.

- I'm not too sold on housing on the Javits lot. It seems to me like an old World Trade Center complex would be better. No, it would not have the nostalgia of downtown, but it could rejuvenate city moral, could be blocked off from the grid, and would fit in perfectly with Hudson Yards. Although, I haven't looked at what the current demand is for office space.

- The housing component of the Sunnyside plan should be something in the form of the old Lighthouse project. It did a great job putting all the pieces together.

- I'm not a fan of the NFL being in Jersey with two teams and none in NYC. I think we're getting close to the time when one of those teams can opt out (the Jets I would imagine). This would be the perfect opportunity to build a stadium in either Queens or Manhattan, esp Queens since it would have room to grow.

- I am 110% opposed to demolition of MSG so I hope whatever happens with the Javits lot should this decision be made happens quickly before anyone gets any wild ideas of moving MSG there.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 3:54 PM
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- I am 110% opposed to demolition of MSG so I hope whatever happens with the Javits lot should this decision be made happens quickly before anyone gets any wild ideas of moving MSG there.
MSG can move to the Farley Annex as previously envisioned. The existing arena simply has to go for any meaningful changes to be done to Penn Station at the track/platform level. Trains can't load/unload quickly because of narrow platforms, limited vertical circulation, and constricted concourses. I'm not even necessarily of the opinion that Penn needs a dramatic (and inevitably insanely expensive) new head house (new overbuild may be preferable financially also) but it is not even a question that MSG has to go.

As to the proposal for moving the convention center...it's possible but going to cost. Sale/lease of Javits would only cover a small portion of the cost to rebuild a larger one over the rail yard and may not be financially responsible. The day may come where office and residential construction is justified due to lack of available land. Willets Point may be a better choice.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2015, 10:17 PM
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The number of bridges and rail flyovers in the area would make this site very complex to develop. It would probably take at least a billion just to get the infrastructure to a point where you could even START construction on the actual platform and buildings. I'm not sure how that level of expense could ever be paid off with affordable housing and a convention center. The Eastern half of the yards might be possible, but the West half looks too complex and small to justify the expense.
I think the idea is that intensive development of the current Javits Center site would cross-subsidize the expense needed create the infrastructure needed to handle development in Sunnyside Yards.

But that would probably be contingent on parcel sales...which would need to happen after the new Sunnyside Yards Javits Center was built.
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Old Posted Feb 9, 2015, 12:55 PM
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Sunnyside on track for major land grab


Quote:
Sunnyside on track for major land grab

Seems like everybody with big ideas for the future has their eyes on the same prize: an obscure plot in Queens.
For Mayor Bill de Blasio last week, it became ground zero for his self-described "game changer" proposal to build 11,250 affordable apartments. Hold on, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He called the property the staging area for another kind of game changer: the tunnels that will bring the Long Island Rail Road into the heart of midtown. Meanwhile, former Bloomberg administration Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff sees it as the perfect spot for a huge new money-spinning convention center, among other things.
All those dreams now hang like a gilded cloud over a roughly 200-acre property that one real estate insider likens to "a giant bowl of spaghetti that will never be untangled," and others have decried for years as a massive scar on the western flank of the city's second-most-populous borough.
Welcome to Sunnyside Yards, where only one thing about what happens next on the city's largest, best-situated vacant lot is clear: It's gonna take a lot of time and money.

"I think it's very important for politicians to have visions," said Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University. "But a lot of visions are nightmares."
For openers, whatever ultimately rises at Sunnyside Yards will stand on a platform that must be built over a labyrinth of active train tracks used by Amtrak, the LIRR and New Jersey Transit. Ownership of the site is nothing if not messy. The puzzle-piece layout of property lines within the yard could make it difficult to deck over the tracks without consensus between the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Amtrak, the owners of the choicest pieces of land, according to city records. Meanwhile, the city owns the air rights over two-thirds of the MTA's 66 acres, but it's unclear exactly where.

[...]

Frightening prospect

Quote:
That's nice, but area residents disagree. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district encompasses the entirety of the rail yard, has vowed to block any proposal for a convention center or high-rise housing in the portion of the yard adjacent to landmarked neighborhood Sunnyside Gardens.
"There have been lots of proposals on developing the yard over the years," he said. "And every time it comes up, folks in the neighborhood get frightened about the prospect of massive development."

And then there's the small matter of timing. In his State of the City speech last week, the mayor talked of putting 11,250 below-market apartments at Sunnyside Yards, the same number built in 1947 at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in Manhattan. But experts doubt that Mr. de Blasio will even be around to count those units toward his ultimate goal of building or preserving 200,000 affordable apartments during the next decade. Decking over the rail yard, even a small portion of it, is expected to be a multidecade project—one with financially unfortunate timing.

"It's a 30-year project where probably 50% of the costs will be incurred in the first five years," said Seth Pinsky, a former CEO of the city's Economic Development Corp., now an executive vice president at developer RXR Realty. "It's decking, it's sewers, it's electricity. There's nothing there. You're building from scratch."

No wonder the mayor's office acknowledges that any housing built at Sunnyside Yards will likely become available after the conclusion of Mr. de Blasio's affordable-housing plan. Nonetheless, it now looks likely that at some point, with the city's blessing—if not cash—housing will blossom on the site. It's a possibility rich in irony.

Prior to the yard's construction 105 years ago, the site was marshland, crisscrossed by streams feeding into Newtown Creek . But the LIRR saw potential and bought up much of the property. Back then, according to 1975's The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History by Vincent Seyfried, hundreds of homeowners received eviction notices. They barely had time to move out before "scavengers under the cover of darkness" demolished whole houses for their wood and plumbing.
=======================================
http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article...ajor-land-grab
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Old Posted Feb 10, 2015, 12:52 AM
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- I'd hate to move a convention center out of Manhattan since that is the center of the business community but if they can really get 4 of 8 billion needed from selling the property, it'd be hard not to give strong consideration to the idea.

This would be the perfect opportunity to build a stadium in either Queens or Manhattan, esp Queens since it would have room to grow.
The Giants and Jets will be in Jersey for another 90 years or so, so forget about that idea.



Quote:
Originally Posted by hammersklavier View Post
I think the idea is that intensive development of the current Javits Center site would cross-subsidize the expense needed create the infrastructure needed to handle development in Sunnyside Yards.

But that would probably be contingent on parcel sales...which would need to happen after the new Sunnyside Yards Javits Center was built.
That's exactly right, and what one of the plans is calling for.

Also about the convention center, keep in mind that the governor was calling for the new convention center to be further east, at Aqueduct racetrack where the casino is. But the cost was being paid for privately by the same company that wanted expanded gambling at the site. Cuomo put off legalized gambling in the city for a few years, so that plan was dead.

But the need for a new convention center comes from the fact that Javits is basically 3 to 4 times too small to bring the type of business the city wants. Building something that large in Manhattan is out of the question, and a convention center in Queens would be in proximity to the city's airports.



Quote:
That's nice, but area residents disagree. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, whose district encompasses the entirety of the rail yard, has vowed to block any proposal for a convention center or high-rise housing in the portion of the yard adjacent to landmarked neighborhood Sunnyside Gardens.
More of the typical, nutty nonsense you would expect from these types. The mayor could have came out and said they were going to build the most beautiful park in the country over the railyards, and someone would be outraged by the prospect.

No, it won't be an easy process (why would anyone think otherwise???) to build over the railyards. New York is hardly an easy place to build in to begin with, but that doesn't mean things don't get done. My eyes roll over 3 times whenever I see whining about something being "difficult".
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Old Posted Feb 19, 2015, 8:31 PM
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http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/0...egaproject.php

Inside Sunnyside Yards, New York City's Next Megaproject



[The Sunnyside Yards in Queens, the site of two new development proposals, is home to a complicated overlap of trains and neighborhoods. All photos by Nathan Kensinger.]
http://kensinger.blogspot.com/


February 19, 2015
by Nathan Kensinger


Quote:
In the past few weeks, the Sunnyside Yards has received an inordinate amount of attention from politicians and press, after being referenced as a possible development site for future megaprojects. Described as "a giant bowl of spaghetti," this vast Queens train yard was included as one of the central proposals in Mayor Bill de Blasio's State of the City address, where he called for a platform to be built over the yards holding 11,250 new affordable apartments. Not to be outdone, Governor Cuomo soon responded by giving support to a different proposal for a new convention center above the tracks. Based on their enthusiasm for these projects, it remains doubtful that either politician has personally explored the entire complicated reality of this 180-acre rail yard.

A circumnavigation of the Sunnyside Yards on foot reveals how huge and complex any plan to build above it would be. Almost two miles long, the perimeter of the yard is surrounded by elaborate fences and intersected by numerous bridges, but its day-to-day operations are largely hidden from public view. What few vantage points there are show a multi-layered system where LIRR, NJ Transit, Amtrak and MTA trains wind and weave above and below ground, enmeshed in a web of power lines and ancillary tracks. Meanwhile, an equally diverse array of neighborhoods borders the edges of the yard, ranging from the post-industrial side streets of Long Island City to the still-industrial warehouses of Sunnyside and the charming residences of the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District.

Walking through this convoluted landscape, it becomes clear that any local pressure to develop on top of the Sunnyside Yards is largely coming from its northwest boundary, where the creeping tide of luxury towers has swept aside industry in Long Island City and reached the very edges of the tracks. In the narrow strip of land between Jackson Avenue and the yards, cranes and construction dominate the skyline, as century-old warehouses are demolished to make way for new residential behemoths. West Chemical and 5 Pointz have now been completely destroyed, Eagle Electric is being gutted and renovated, and several new glass boxes now loom over the yards. The potential creation of up to 28 million square feet of "new" land in the backyard of these projects would doubtlessly benefit some developers enormously....






























Development bearing down...


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Old Posted Feb 20, 2015, 3:57 PM
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Looking to get back on the railyard bandwagon, the Bronx wants to build...


http://www.welcome2thebronx.com/word...al-rail-yards/

Bronx BP Proposes Development Over Several Rail Yards

By Ed García Conde
February 19, 2015


Quote:
149th Street Metro North rail yards outlined in red.





Quote:
Bedford park rail yards outlined in red.





Quote:
1 train rail yards west of Broadway in Riverdale/Kingsbridge. (outlined in red)

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Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 5:11 PM
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City to Study Feasibility of Sunnyside Yards, Amid Concerns

Saturday, February 21, 2015
Rowley Amato

Quote:
Despite the endless complications of building over Sunnyside Yards, the New York City Economic Development Corporation will soon embark on a formal feasibility study of Mayor De Blasio's proposed affordable housing megaproject.

According to the EDC—which issued an RFP on Friday—the study will assess the practicalities of building a massive rail platform over the train tracks and developing 11,250 affordable units. The study will encompass a large variety of specific factors, including possible changes in the configuration of the rail yards, requirements to maintain rail operations, geotechnical conditions of the site, the infrastructural requirements of the proposed platforms, and the financial costs of the project.

However, local opposition to the project is already mounting. State Senator Michael Gianaris, whose district includes Sunnyside, recently expressed concerns and vowed to fight against the project if it is not supported by the community-at-large.

"As any possible discussion surrounding Sunnyside Yards continues, I will intensify my efforts to see these needs addressed before anyone proposes adding thousands of new residents to our area," he wrote in a letter to constituents. "I will stand with you every step of the way as we work to ensure that our infrastructure keeps pace with continued growth and residents like you have the say you deserve in determining the future of our neighborhood."

Beyond the political ramifications of the project, the logistical problems are myriad. There are the aforementioned issues of ownership, given that the MTA, Amtrak, and various other entities all control portions of the rail yard; the price will be exorbitant (as a comparison, the platform over the Hudson Yards megaproject will cost around $750 million); and it will likely take over a decade for the project to even get past the planning stages.

Nevertheless, responses to the city's RFP are due by March 20.

Sunnyside Yards Development Will Be Costly and Time-Consuming, Experts Say

Damn, I thought it would be done in six days and all we need is 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to feed the workers. Silly me!

Jeanmarie Evelly
February 19, 2015

Quote:
Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to build thousands of affordable apartments over the railroad tracks at Sunnyside Yards might not make it out of the station because of a hefty expected price tag, experts say.

The mayor proposed building some 11,250 affordable units at the rail yards during his State of the City speech earlier this month. And while experts say it can be done — pointing to projects like Atlantic Yards and Hudson Yards — they predict it will be costly and time-consuming.

"We sort of learned how to do them in the modern era, but they're expensive," said Barry Hersh, a clinical associate professor at New York University's Schack Institute of Real Estate.

He compared the mayor's Sunnyside plan to the Hudson Yards project being built on Manhattan's west side, where a platform over the railroad tracks is expected to cost $750 million, according to published reports.

It was not clear how much the platform and development in Sunnyside would cost.

"It's an expensive way to buy land," Hersh said. "If you spend a lot of money to build a platform over the yard, you need to build a lot of units to justify that. You need to have a dense project."

Sunnyside Yards is in a "great" location in terms of accessibility, Hersh said. And since the site is partly owned by the MTA — some acres of which the city has air rights to — it makes it a more attractive development prospect than if it were entirely owned by private parties.

Building big is the way de Blasio will be able to reach his affordable housing goals, Hersh added.

"In order to produce the 200,000 units that the mayor talked about building or saving, you’ve got to do big projects," he said.

The site's 200-acre size is both a draw and a challenge, according to Christopher Jones, vice president of research with Regional Plan Association, who said they were "very glad to see the mayor put this on the table."

"There's almost no place left in New York City where you can look at an area that large, that could potentially support so many of the things the city needs," he said. "The challenge, of course, is that in order to build over an active rail yard of that size, it is going to be incredibly expensive."

It could take years, likely more than a decade, for a project of this size to get off the ground, experts said.

"The history of large development projects in New York is they have to go through several iterations before they're actually built," Jones said. "That’s why its really important to get this discussion going now."

The mayor's office will soon launch a feasibility study to assess the costs and infrastructure needs that developing Sunnyside Yards would require, a spokesman said.

The MTA declined to comment. Amtrak, which owns much of the yards, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jerilyn Perine, executive director of the Citizens Housing Planning Council, said studying the rail yards for housing makes sense.

"I'm not saying that it's not complicated — I'm sure there's many, many technical issues, of course, but let's take a hard look at them," she said, adding that the city has successfully built projects of this magnitude before.

"We have taken on these kinds of big challenges of reshaping our infrastructure in different ways," she said. "We should just remind ourselves that it is possible."

Last edited by sparkling; Feb 21, 2015 at 5:25 PM.
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Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 6:24 PM
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Looking to get back on the railyard bandwagon, the Bronx wants to build...

The Bedford Park yard has the most potential. It's location right off the GC and the fact that Tracy Towers is already decked over the northern part of the yard, it seems obvious.

149 St is also good. You've got the Morrisania air rights towers just up the way that did this in the 70s. You could probably build 4,000-6,000 here alone.

As for the Riverdale yard I just don't see it being worth the effort. Too small, not dense enough around there to justify, plus I've always liked the visibility of that yard next to the football field. It's cool, don't deck over every yard in town, rail fans will be very unhappy.
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Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 7:40 PM
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What's with all the baseball and track fields in the Bronx? All three aerials have them.
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Old Posted Feb 21, 2015, 11:08 PM
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It sure seems like it would be cheaper in all three of those places to just tear down some old low-density blocks and replace them with towers. The last one is especially silly as it looks like it's right next to a bunch of suburban style single family homes.
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Old Posted Feb 24, 2015, 2:17 AM
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What's with all the baseball and track fields in the Bronx? All three aerials have them.
There are schools/colleges in the Bronx. I don't think it's a lot more overall than the rest of the city, except Manhattan.


http://www.nycedc.com/opportunity/su...t-services-rfp

Sunnyside Yards Feasibility Study, Consultant Services RFP

Submission Deadline March 20, 2015 at 4:00 pm


Quote:
New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) is seeking a consultant or consultant team to study the engineering and financial feasibility of developing atop Sunnyside Yards in Queens.

The purpose of this Feasibility Study is to provide guidance as to the viability of an overbuild project at Sunnyside Yards, and to provide recommendations for the implementation of such a project.

The Project is envisioned as a comprehensive and detailed assessment that considers all of the relevant aspects needed to establish the feasibility of developing any potential program at Sunnyside Yards, including technical, environmental, and financial analyses.

To make that determination, the Consultant shall holistically evaluate specific factors such as the technical/physical configuration and requirements of proposed deck structures over the rail yards, infrastructure/utility requirements, costs, local impacts, environmental issues, and implementation strategies.

The Consultant shall provide and/or procure certain planning, engineering, cost estimating, public outreach, and preliminary design services related to the Project.



http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/21/ny...epot.html?_r=0

Despite Cuomo’s Opposition, de Blasio Requests Housing Proposals for Queens Rail Depot


By MATT FLEGENHEIMER
FEB. 20, 2015


Quote:
The de Blasio administration moved forward on Friday with a plan to reimagine a Queens rail depot as a haven for affordable housing, issuing a request for proposals to study the feasibility of developing the area known as Sunnyside Yards.

But the study will, at least initially, exclude portions of the site owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — an agency controlled by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose office has chafed at the idea.

In a statement on Friday, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who hopes to build more than 11,000 units of affordable housing on the site, called the project “a tremendous opportunity to deliver on our vision of a more affordable city.”

Amtrak, which owns much of the depot, has expressed an openness to the plan, and on Friday it praised what it called the mayor’s “leadership in advancing this effort.”

State officials have been less charitable. Hours after Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, announced his ambitions during his State of the City address this month, the governor’s chief spokeswoman issued a statement calling the yards “an important facility for our transportation system.”

“It is not available for any other use in the near term,” the spokeswoman, Melissa DeRosa, said.

On Friday, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, John P.L. Kelly, said, “Nothing’s changed from the state’s position.”

The episode is the latest in a series of high-profile rifts between the mayor and the governor — complicated, in this case, by the tangled ownership structure at the yards. (After the speech, several senior officials with the transit agency abruptly pulled out of a long-scheduled meeting to discuss the project with the city.)

Asked on Friday if there was any feasible way for the yards to be developed without the transportation authority’s blessing, the office of the governor, a Democrat, said it would be up to the city to decide.

The transportation authority declined to comment when asked the same question, and Amtrak did not respond.

Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the mayor, said city officials “hope and anticipate everyone being able to come together and collaborate here.” Mr. Norvell said any eventual plan would preserve existing rail service and account for future transportation needs at the site.

He noted that the request for proposals, from the city’s Economic Development Corporation, was designed to allow the transportation authority’s part of the yards to be included later on.


“At the project team’s option, M.T.A.’s property may or may not be included in the feasibility study,” the proposal said.

Transportation experts seem convinced that a united front will be required to develop the site.

“You can do a feasibility study that looks at just different options for the site, what the engineering and environmental issues are, those broad issues,” said Christopher Jones, vice president for research at the Regional Plan Association. “But certainly to get very far into planning for the site, the M.T.A. is going to have to be intricately involved.”


http://www.capitalnewyork.com/articl...s-housing-plan

By Sally Goldenberg
Feb. 20, 2015

Quote:
.....the vast majority of the site is owned by Amtrak, which has been receptive to de Blasio's idea.

In an apparent move to avoid further conflict with Cuomo, the R.F.P. only seeks a study for the area owned by Amtrak and the city, which has air rights to some of the acreage. Wiley Norvell, a de Blasio spokesman, said the study could be broadened in the future to include the M.T.A.-owned land.

It's not clear exactly how many acres each of the stakeholders owns.

Estimates from the city, state and other parties have varied.

The M.T.A. has told Capital the land consists of 160 acres, not 200 as the city contends, and that the agency owns 34 of them. The city put the overall size at "approximately 200 acres," according to the R.F.P., and has said Amtrak owns 113 acres and that the M.T.A. owns 66, of which the city owns the air rights on 44. The city believes private owners control the remaining acres, which lie at the eastern edge of the site.

Norvell said the study will clear up confusion over the acreage breakdown.


I think in the end, everyone will come together. Amtrak has more say over what gets eventually gets done here.


Quote:
...Amtrak, the largest landowner at the 200-acre site in western Queens, is supportive of his idea of decking over the rail yards and building affordable housing on top, and the city owns air rights on 44 of the acres owned by the state-controlled Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

...Amtrak released a statement saying, "We are working with the city and others to understand what potential exists for this incredibly unique site and recognize and support the mayor's strong interest in advancing affordable housing as part of any major new development."

Nothing will happen soon. Amtrak has said it doesn't expect to conduct a feasibility study until 2016.
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