De Blasio’s Sunnyside Yards proposal would cost $16B-$19B: NYC EDC

Roughly 85% of the 180-acre site could be developed, study claims

Alicia Glen, Bill de Blasio, James Patchett and Sunnyside Yards (Credit: Mayor’s Office)
Alicia Glen, Bill de Blasio, James Patchett and Sunnyside Yards (Credit: Mayor’s Office)

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to deck and develop Sunnyside Yards in Queens could feasibly cover 85 percent of the 180-acre site at a cost ranging from $16 billion to $19 billion, according to a new study published by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

When the mayor pitched the idea to develop the sprawling rail yard during his second State of the City address in early 2015, critics said it would be too costly to make affordable housing work.

Among the naysayers was Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who floated the idea of building a convention center on the site before later committing to overhaul the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Now de Blasio has a study backing up his grand idea, albeit one from a friendly agency, the EDC, Crain’s reported.

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“Sunnyside Yard represents one of our greatest opportunities to invest in the affordable housing, good jobs, open space and public transit western Queens needs,” deputy mayor for housing and economic development Alicia Glen, said in a statement released with the report.

The proposal to develop the rail yard does come with complications that go beyond engineering.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit – none of which is controlled by the city – all use the sprawling rail yard. The EDC study considered three development scenarios. The first would be predominantly residential with up to 24,000 apartments. The second would be a combination of residential, commercial and retail space. The third scenario would have no commercial space, but would include space for cultural or retail tenants that would be attractive to city residents.

It’s unclear, though, what impact the study will have on the mayor’s proposal moving forward. De Blasio is sure to face opposition from local Queens residents who oppose development. [Crain’s]Rich Bockmann