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Sunnyside Yards Development Would Be Incredibly Difficult

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Sunnyside Yards, the 160-acre rail yard in Queens, is set to be the site of a major political/development battle as Mayor Bill de Blasio just announced plans to constructed a Stuyvesant Town-sized affordable housing development there, and Governor Andrew Cuomo immediately countered that the rail yard is needed for transit purposes while semi-endorsing former deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff's proposal to build a convention center there. As Crain's lays out, however, any development at—or, rather, on top of—Sunnyside Yards would be an incredibly difficult project due to its size, shape, topography, and complicated ownership.

The question of who owns Sunnyside Yards is a not a simple one. The MTA and Amtrak both control portions, though the divisions are nebulous. General Motors also controls a small section, which it uses for "dealership activities." The land itself is also problematic—Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University, describes the bedrock as "soft," which would be problematic in terms of building, say, an eight million-square-foot platform with a small village on top of it. Any development would take an extremely long time and be very costly, which will not work in de Blasio's favor. Seth Pinsky, a former CEO of the city's Economic Development Corp. and current executive vice president at developer RXR Realty told Crain's, "It's a 30-year project where probably 50% of the costs will be incurred in the first five years." And, on top, of all that, the current residents of Sunnyside are going to vehemently oppose the project no matter what it is. In other words: good luck.
· Sunnyside on track for major land grab [Crain's]
· Sunnyside Yards coverage [Curbed]