The Real Deal New York

Queens residents “terrified” of 50-story resi towers: Van Bramer

Constituents fear glut of massive buildings in Astoria, Sunnyside: Council majority leader

December 02, 2015 12:44PM

Long Island City Van Bramer

Long Island City waterfront in Queens (inset: Jimmy Van Bramer)

City Council majority leader Jimmy Van Bramer said his constituents “are terrified” about the prospect of “50-story mega-towers” rising in Long Island City’s Sunnyside Yards thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s rezoning proposal.

The de Blasio administration hopes to bring “thousands of units of additional housing” to Long Island City and surrounding Queens neighborhoods through the rezoning, with Van Bramer pegging 25 to 30 percent of those units as affordable.

“Long Island City is the epicenter of growth in Queens, and the administration sees an opportunity,” Van Bramer told Crain’s. “Rather than one-off developments and individual variance requests, the idea is to bring in parts of Northern Boulevard, Queens Plaza and all of Jackson Avenue and some adjoin streets, and have a master plan.”

The mayor has put aside $1 billion for infrastructure improvements in the areas to be rezoned, Van Bramer said, with schools, parks and transit improvements among the upgrades on deck.

But he noted that constituents fear the plan will bring about a glut of residential high-rises “dwarfing these low-rise communities” and changing the shape of their neighborhoods.

“I agree with them on that,” Van Bramer said. “I need to have reassurance we’ll never have 40- or 50-story towers anywhere near the Astoria and Sunnyside portions of the yards.

“It’s also hard to imagine western Queens taking in the number of additional units that would be needed to make the Sunnyside Yards financial feasible,” he added. “I have doubts about the endeavor.” [Crain’s]Rey Mashayekhi