Sept. 17, 2019. By Shane O’Brien
The New York City EDC released a number of design concepts for the Sunnyside Yard at a public meeting in Long Island City last night as the planning process for the gigantic site continues.
The three-hour meeting held at Aviation High School was attended by more than 200 people and was the subject of a planned protest by dozens of activists who are wary of its development. The meeting, for much of the evening, was an orderly affair.
The Economic Development Corporation put forward a number of plans for the 180-acre site. They included a sprawling 60-acre parks system; residential and business districts; roads and bikes lanes; and a new Sunnyside train station, which would serve as a transport hub connecting western Queens with the wider region.
This was the EDC’s third public meeting on the Sunnyside Yard master plan and included the most concrete plans yet. The EDC insists that there is still time for public feedback to make a difference.
The masterplan, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year, will provide a framework that underpins all aspects of the development for decades to come, including the various phases and timelines.
There are plans for a centralized greenway running the length of the Sunnyside Yard project and a large park at the Long Island City end of the yard. The EDC also hopes to double the size of Lou Lodati Park in Sunnyside and add several smaller parks around the perimeter of the Yard.
Vishaan Chakrabarti, the leader of the project’s master planning consulting team, said that the EDC wanted to install a variety of parks, including recreational parks featuring basketball courts and other sports as well as family space.
The EDC also provided details for a road grid at Monday’s meeting. The city plans to develop identically sized blocks and a number of different types of thoroughfares at Sunnyside Yard.
There are plans for shared streets for cars, cyclists and pedestrians as well as plans for the centralized greenway. The shared streets would have a maximum speed limit of 5-10 mph.
There is also a plan to install a corridor on either side of the yard. The corridors would run the length of the yard and connect existing regions in Long Island City and Sunnyside. They would also be used for bus routes.
The EDC plans to develop a train station, which would potentially be serviced by Amtrak, LIRR and Metro North.
The EDC has also developed plans for several retail and office hubs on the yard. The draft plan places offices close to existing job clusters and mass transportation in Long Island City and along Northern Boulevard.
Chakrabarti said that the majority of buildings in Sunnyside Yard would be mid-rise, between eight and 18 stories and he said that such a height was not uncommon for the surrounding area. Some of the plans displayed at the meeting, however, did note that buildings of 30-50 stories are being planned.
Some attendees wanted to know how much the giant project would cost and were unhappy as to the way in which the EDC disclosed those figures. The EDC estimated the cost on a square foot basis and allocated different costs for different areas of the yard, making it extremely difficult to calculate a total cost.
Adam Grossman Meagher, the director of Sunnyside Yard, later said that it would cost at least $17 billion.
The EDC said that the project would be built in phases and may take up to 100 years to fully complete. The organization did not say what its next steps would be after the completion of the master plan.