The city has tapped a team led by architect Vishaan Chakrabarti to develop a master plan for the 180-acre train yard in Queens that Mayor Bill de Blasio imagines being decked over with parks and tens of thousands of apartments, several sources told Crain’s.
Sunnyside Yard, the canyon of tracks between Long Island City and Sunnyside, has long been eyed as a development site of epic proportions. In February of last year, the de Blasio administration released a study showing that it would be possible to construct a deck over 85% of the pit to support some combination of commercial, retail, cultural and residential buildings and open space. In one scenario outlined in the document, that translated to 24,000 apartments and a price tag of $19 billion, a cost on par with The Related Cos.’ Hudson Yards project on Manhattan’s West Side.
Chakrabarti’s firm, PAU, declined to comment, and the city’s Economic Development Corp. said that it has not officially designated a team. However, several sources with knowledge of the process told Crain’s that PAU has won a request for proposals that the city issued in November.
That means the firm will likely be tasked with building on the city’s preliminary work and drawing up a more specific development scheme, which will also account for required infrastructure and schools, a process officials have estimated will take up to two years. Because of the time needed to hash out a proposal and the daunting logistics of building a deck and columns over an active rail yard, the biggest decisions about acting on the master plan will come after de Blasio’s term ends in 2021. However, the administration has argued that coming up with a set of blueprints now is crucial to ensure that Amtrak, which owns most of the yard, can take the city’s aims into consideration as it upgrades its own facilities.