The Question of the Redevelopment of Sunnyside Yards

by megc | 2 | Share this Article:

in Long Island City, Real Estate, Sunnyside


Photo credit: Jim Henderson via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday an article by The Real Deal on the topic of redeveloping Sunnyside Yards caught my eye—”Dan Doctoroff wants to move the Javits Center to Queens,” which seems like a crazy idea. That said, the covering of Sunnyside Yards and building on top of it has been proposed before in the past, so maybe it’s not that crazy in that respect. Anyway, former deputy mayor Dan is in love with the idea of bringing a convention center to Queens, along with potential jobs and dollars.

Support for this argument includes proximity to the city/great transit; all the hotels already established in LIC/Dutch Kills; and the assertion that Sunnyside Yards “carves a nasty scar through the heart of Queens” and apparently should be fixed. Good to see Jimmy Van Bramer shoot that one down for being at the very least pretty rude: “I’m offended every time someone says there’s a scar running through the neighborhoods that I represent.”

JVB goes on to say in the Daily News article, “I have never had a constituent tell me that what we need is a convention center built smack dab in that neighborhood.” Joseph Conley, prez of CB2 also chimed in with, “I don’t see how a convention center would work there. This would not be exactly what we’re talking about.” Conley has advocated for decking over the Yards and putting up more affordable housing, which is really something folks in Western Queens want.

Doctorow also says in the NY Times article, “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.” My guess is that hotel prices would go up with a convention center nearby.

And then there’s the issue of transit—additional stress on the 7 train would be a big problem. The other lines, especially the N/Q which is home to the 39th Avenue stop near many of the hotels, would also be overwhelmed. Astoria is already anticipating transit problems with the influx of residents from Astoria Cove. And apart from the influx of convention center tourists, if 11,000 new units of housing were built atop Sunnyside Yards, transit could be even more adversely affected. Even the planned Sunnyside LIRR station will only make a little bit of a dent in the swaths of people trying to catch the train.

The city seems pretty into the idea of a convention center, or some kind of redevelopment of this area. According to the NYDN, “Department of City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod told a room full of Queens leaders at Borough Hall on Monday night that the ‘tantalizing’ site was the first in the city that he and Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen decided should be studied for development.”

We welcome your thoughts on this—is the redevelopment of Sunnyside Yards a good thing or a bad thing or somewhere in between? Leave us a comment or a tweet.

Dan Doctoroff wants to move the Javits Center to Queens [TRD]
Queens locals aren’t thrilled with long-shot plan to put convention center and housing at Sunnyside Yards [NYDN]
New York’s Next Big Thing [NYT]

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Newell Niesen December 2, 2014 at 3:09 pm

The East Side Access will become operational between 2019-2023 so I can totally understand some urban redevelopment in the area, but a convention center? Seems unconventional.


megc December 3, 2014 at 6:35 pm

In one of the articles, or maybe it was on Curbed, someone mentioned that when people learn they are coming to NYC for a conference/expo in a convention center, then think Manhattan, not Queens. I love Queens and recognize all the wonderful things that are here, but I can understand that POV. One thing I was thinking about this week is, “good thing we don’t have major earthquakes out here in NYC…”


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