City moves closer to selecting master planner for Sunnyside Yard proposal

The city denies a published report that the de Blasio administration has selected a team to create a master plan for the massive Sunnyside Yards project.
Photo by skinnylawyer/Wikimedia
By Bill Parry

City Hall is denying that a master planner has been selected to design the massive Sunnyside Yards project that would deck over 180 acres of the yards in order to build as many as 24,000 apartments with parkland, commercial, retail and cultural venues costing $19 billion.

Crain’s New York reported that Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, a studio founded by Vishaan Chakrabarti, had been chosen through a request for proposals to develop a plan during the next two years. But the city Economic Development Corporation says no team has been chosen yet.

“NYCEDC has not designated a team to oversee master planning for Sunnyside Yard, and we are looking forward to engaging community stakeholders before beginning any master plan process,” NYCEDC spokesman Anthony Hogebe said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is also denying its $2.5 billion Brooklyn Queens Connector project is on the verge of being shelved over its financial structure. The Daily News reported Tuesday that the city “may back off” the streetcar project that would run for 16 miles from Astoria to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, after Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said, “Assuming that it does not pay for itself, then we have to decide whether or not this is the right use of capital money for a transportation project.”

Last year, Glen suggested in a confidential memo that the project might not be financially feasible, yet the city continues to examine the project.

“The BQX can bring jobs and a green transportation system — a street car — to a series of transit-hungry Brooklyn and Queens waterfront neighborhoods,” City Hall spokeswoman Melissa Grace said. “As we wrap up a block-by-block study, we are determining if increased tax revenue created by the project will pay for it or if we need a city subsidy to make it work, and ultimately if we can move forward with this project.”

The de Blasio administration had hoped to begin construction in 2019 with service scheduled to begin in 2024. The advocacy group Friends of the BQX, which unveiled a sleek $100,000 prototype of a streetcar at the Brooklyn Navy Yards last fall to boost support for the project, hopes the city makes the system a reality.

The de Blasio administration had hoped to begin construction in 2019 with service scheduled to begin in 2024.

“Few proposed projects match the potential of the BQX to create jobs, spur inclusive economic growth and leverage city resources to expand opportunity,” a Friends of the BQX spokesman said. “Now is the time for the city to capitalize on a real moment to take our transit destiny into our hands and move the BQX forward by unveiling the next steps for the project.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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