Late last week, the city released a Request for Proposal for feasibility studies on developing over Sunnyside Yards. Mayor de Blasio’s proposal to build 11,250 units of permanently affordable housing over the yards is a controversial one — a petition against development formed even before the mayor made his announcement. And now we are hearing about protest groups gaining traction in the borough, with plans to start petitioning soon. There are also murmurings of possible protests to take place at the St. Pats For All Parade this weekend, which the mayor is expected to attend.

Local pols have already picked up on local resistance to Mayor de Blasio’s idea. Council Member Van Bramer has yet to embrace any development plans, and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan released this statement yesterday:

I remain concerned that any attempt by Mayor Deblasio’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. I recently wrote an op-ed article with various concerns that still need to be addressed. I will be vigilant in monitoring the actions of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and will continue to demand that the Mayor hear the voices of the many tax paying, middle class New Yorkers who live in Western Queens. The character of Queens would change completely with additional high-rise, overbuilt towers. I await more news from the administration and will continue to monitor this situation very closely.

And according to DNAinfo, Governor Cuomo spoke out against development for the second time just this Monday.

All Sunnyside Yards coverage [Q'Stoner]

02/24/15 1:00pm


There was a time when some Irish people thought that New York City streets were paved with gold. Well, on Sunday, a Sunnyside/Woodside thoroughfare will be filled with innumerable Emerald Isle natives and many other marchers during the St. Pat’s For All Parade. This 15th annual event was founded in response to the never-ending conflict over openly gay participation in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan. Thus, organizers of the Queens march emphasize the diversity of the Big Apple’s Irish and Irish American residents, especially the LGBT community. Beyond the ethnic groups, expect such entities as the Sunnyside United Dog Society, the Ethical Humanist Society of Queens, and veterans agencies.

Details: St. Pat’s For All Parade, Skillman Avenue from 43rd Street in Sunnyside to 56th Street in Woodside, March 1st, 1 pm (assembly and remarks), 2 pm (step off), free.

Bonus details: Lunar New Year, Queens Center Food Court, 90-15 Queens Boulevard, Elmhurst, February 28th, noon to 6 pm, free. Events include a martial arts demonstration with Kung Fu Master Long Fei Yang, Korean and Japanese drummers, tea tastings, and the Dragon Dance. The first 200 people who bring an event social media post (like this one) will receive a red envelope with a prize.

Photo: St. Pat’s For All

02/20/15 3:00pm


The city is moving forward on a controversial proposal by Mayor de Blasio to build 11,250 units of permanently affordable housing over the Sunnyside Rail Yards. Today the Economic Development Corporation, in collaboration with Amtrak, issued an RFP for a feasibility study on development at the site. Besides affordable housing, the city is looking for opportunities to build out schools, open space and community facilities while also improving public transportation and infrastructure. Any development would preserve “the vital operations of rail facilities in the yards.” This is strictly a feasibility study, to see if development is even possible. More from the EDC:

The Feasibility Study will include a comprehensive evaluation of specific factors such as the existing and planned configuration of the rail yards, ongoing requirements to maintain all and accommodate future rail operations, geotechnical conditions, requirements and limitations of proposed deck structures, infrastructure and utility conditions both on- and off-site, and financial feasibility. In addition to creating land for housing and parks, the project could potentially result in the development of commercial and community facilities like new schools, as well as services and amenities that respond to the needs of the diverse communities surrounding Sunnyside Yards, encouraging active street life, thriving retail, improved surface transit and mobility in the area. The project will seek to closely integrate any future development into the local context. The project could also provide enhanced rail operations and safer working conditions at the Sunnyside Yards rail facilities.

Basically, the study will need to consider all relevant aspects of potential development including the technical, environmental, market, rail operations and financial factors. (As many have already pointed out, there are a lot of factors to consider before building.)

According to Mayor de Blasio, “This is the first step in understanding whether development of the Sunnyside Yards is possible, and what it could contribute to the city and surrounding communities. This is a tremendous opportunity to deliver on our vision of a more affordable city, and smart development that responds to the needs of surrounding neighborhoods. We are excited to be working with partners like Amtrak and local stakeholders on a thoughtful and thorough review that gives us facts we can build on.”

Responses to the RFP are due by March 20th, 2015.

All Sunnyside Yards coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo by Mitch Waxman

02/19/15 4:00pm


Over at Curbed, Nathan Kensinger published an excellent photo essay of the Sunnyside Yards. As you may have noticed, the yards have been in the news a lot lately after Mayor de Blasio proposed to build affordable housing on top of the 180-acre site. Who knows whether that will ever happen; for now it is “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.”

Check out the full photo tour here.

Photo by Nathan Kensinger

02/18/15 12:00pm


Why is this Sunnyside condo so pricey? Let’s get the asking price out of the way, which is $439,000. It’s not particularly large, with one bedroom, one bathroom and 711 square feet. (The kitchen looks especially small.) And the interior isn’t wowing us either. The one thing we can think of is the nice location, two blocks from the 46th Street 7. Readers, any thoughts on this one?

43-33 48th Street [Stonington Realty] GMAP

02/17/15 2:00pm


On Sunday, Sunnyside welcomed a new, authentic Chinese dumpling joint to the neighborhood. Dumplings & Things opened at 45-26 46th Street, right near the Sunnyside arch. According to Sunnyside Shines, this is the second location of the business; the first outpost is located in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Says Sunnyside Shines: “Sibling owners Lorraine Li and Sam Li, along with their family, bring many years of experience preparing the dough, dumplings, noodles and sauces that has made their first venture so successful.”

The menu — which you can see in full after the jump — includes five types of Chinese dumplings with pork, chicken and vegetable varieties. There are also noodles, soups, baos and rice platters, including pork belly noodles, sesame noodles with peanut sauce, and braised beef baos. You can see photos of the food and interior space after the jump.

Dumplings & Things is open Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 am to 10 pm and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 am to 11 pm. Any Sunnyside residents stop by over the long weekend? GMAP

Photos via Sunnyside Shines (more…)

02/17/15 12:00pm


It’s not everyday a townhouse in Sunnyside hits the market, so we were pleased to spot this one at 50-59 40th Street. It’s a cozy three bedroom/two bathroom that we’re quite smitten with. That pink carpet has got to go, but otherwise it’s a well-kept home with some charming historic features. The biggest downside, we’d say, is that the bedrooms and kitchen look small. While it’s being used as a single family, the listing says there’s potential to turn it into a duplex with a second apartment. And it’s worth mentioning that there’s an enclosed garage, as well as two parking spaces for the property. So, what’s the asking price? It comes in at $759,000.

50-59 40th Street [Stonington Realty] GMAP

02/13/15 10:00am

Sunnyside rail yards

Mayor de Blasio’s plan–if it’s far enough along to even call it a plan–to build a massive housing complex above the Sunnyside rail yards continues to face opposition from just about every corner. Yesterday the Times ran an article that used the rail yards to highlight the ongoing tension between the mayor and Governor Cuomo. According to the story de Blasio gave Cuomo little notice that he planned to mention the yards in his state of the city address. Hours later Cuomo’s spokesman issued a statement: Sunnyside Yards is “unavailable for any other use in the near term.” After that, transportation authority officials backed out of long-scheduled meetings with the city according to the story

Here in Queens the reaction from public officials has been swift and entirely negative. On Tuesday Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told the Hunter’s Point Civic Association that in order to meet the 11,200 units of affordable housing that the mayor is seeking, developers might have to build 70,000 to 80,000 units according to the LIC Post. Van Bramer vowed to oppose the plan, pointing out that the area already has issues with green space and transportation.

“We can’t fit people on the 7 train today, we don’t have enough school seats for our children today, we don’t have enough green space in western Queens today [excluding Astoria Park and the waterfront in Hunters Point],” he said. “Adding 100,000 more people to our community is staggering,” he said.”The No. 7 train will not be able to house them all,” he added. “That is crazy,” he was quoted as saying in the Post.

State senator Michael Gianaris  also voiced his opposition to the idea at a Community Board Two meeting last week, pointing out similar existing problems with the area’s transportation infrastructure according to an article in the Times Ledger. The community board’s new chairman chimed in with his concerns as well.

While the development, should it ever go forward would be massive, it’s not clear how Van Bramer came up with his figures. The city currently requires developers seeking zoning changes for their buildings to set aside 20 percent of their units as affordable. If the city and developers follow that model the development will need to have 56,000 units to reach the goal of 11,200 affordable units (one expert quoted by the Post specualted that in exchange for the affordable units developers would be able to build as many market-rate units as they wanted). That is a vast development to be sure, one that would change the neighborhood for decades to come. However, it is also far short of 80,000 units.

What do you think about the development? Are there better uses for the rail yards or should they just be left as they are?

For Cuomo and de Blasio, the Tension Comes Easily [NY Times]
De Blasio’s Sunnyside Yards Plan Might Result in 70,000 Units Being Built on top of Tracks [LIC Post]
CB2 Keeps Watchful Eye on Sunnyside Rail Yards [Times Ledger]
Sunnyside Yards Coverage [Q'Stoner]

Photo: Mitch Waxman

02/09/15 1:00pm


It’s the most diverse county in the world and the best tourism destination in the United States, so it’s no surprise that Queens is overflowing with wonderful Valentine’s Day activities and bargains. In fact, local chances for romance and fun related to this international holiday are so numerous that they run for more than two weeks and include everything from live music to a “love run,” hotel getaways, and even a blood drive for the do-gooders. Another photo and many more details are on the jump page.