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Press Release

City and Amtrak Take Major Step Toward Transformative Vision for Sunnyside Yard

May 03 2018

Announce Formation of Sunnyside Yard Steering Committee to Advise on Future Investments and Development at 180-acre Site in Western Queens

Master Planning Process to Launch in Summer 2018

NEW YORK, NY—Deputy Mayor of Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen and Amtrak Chairman Anthony Coscia today announced an agreement that master planning for Sunnyside Yard will begin in summer 2018. The City of New York and Amtrak have signed a letter of intent to formalize collaboration on the master planning process.

The master plan – which could bring billions of dollars in potential infrastructure investments to Western Queens - will be drafted in consultation with the newly formed Sunnyside Yard Steering Committee that includes community leaders, regional thought leaders and planning experts. The Sunnyside Yard Steering Committee will be co-chaired by Elizabeth Lusskin, President of the Long Island City Partnership, and Sharon Greenberger, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York.

Over the next 20 years, New York City is expected to add more than half a million people - including over 80,000 in Queens alone. That growth will put additional strain on schools, parks, mass transit and housing that current residents rely upon. Sunnyside Yard presents an opportunity to address these challenges head-on, and do so in a way that integrates new development into the established fabric of surrounding communities. The master planning process will help create a vision for building an innovative, equitable, and tech-enabled neighborhood from the ground up, right in the middle of the most diverse county in the nation.

The City and Amtrak selected NYC-based Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) as the lead consultant to develop the master plan for Sunnyside Yard. The planning team includes a number of other world-renowned engineering, futurist, technical and community engagement experts, including HNTB, Nelson Byrd Woltz and Thornton Tomasetti. The planning process presents a new opportunity to envision the future of Western Queens, including advancing local and regional transportation solutions and neighborhood services.

NYCEDC also announced today the appointment of Cali Williams as Director of Sunnyside Yard, a role created to coordinate the efforts of the City. Ms. Williams has worked at NYCEDC for nearly 10 years, leading the implementation of neighborhood planning, economic development and rezoning efforts in all five boroughs. Most recently, she oversaw comprehensive action plans for Jamaica and Far Rockaway, Queens. Ms. Williams is a 5th generation New Yorker and holds a Bachelor of Science in Urban Planning, from Cornell University and a Master’s in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"This is a once in a generation opportunity for civic groups, public officials and residents to create a vision for their borough, one that delivers on the central challenges Queens faces like affordable housing, open space, more school seats and better public transit. We are ready to listen and to work with all our partners to develop a plan that Queens can be proud of," said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen.

"The Sunnyside Yard project has long been a priority for Amtrak, as it represents a great opportunity to invest in our rail infrastructure, as well as the local and state economies, and the quality of life in Western Queens," said Tony Coscia, Chair of the Amtrak Board of Directors. "We will continue to work closely with the NYCEDC, Deputy Mayor Glen, other members of the Steering Committee and other key stakeholders and elected officials to evaluate the potential for future development at Sunnyside Yard."

Sunnyside Yard represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring good jobs, affordable homes, open space and improved public transit to Western Queens,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “We look forward to working closely with Amtrak, the Sunnyside Yard Steering Committee and community leaders to deliver this transformational investment.”

“Sunnyside Yard is an untapped resource, situated within and across LIC, the geographic center of NYC. The Yard has great potential as a regional and locally significant transportation hub. This planning effort provides an opportunity to provide employment, recreational, educational and housing prospects for the next century for the people of Sunnyside, LIC, the borough of Queens and NYC,” said Elizabeth Lusskin, President of the LIC Partnership. “I am excited to be working with Sharon and this diverse Steering Committee to provide input to our co-hosts, Deputy Mayor Glen and Chairman Coscia, and the team led by PAU, as they seek to develop a Master Plan that at once serves the pressing needs of the local community and takes advantage of the opportunity to shape the city and region’s future.”

“The process of imagining the future of Sunnyside Yards site will be as important as the vision that is created,” said Sharon Greenberger, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York. “We have the collective – and rare – opportunity to apply decades of lessons learned in terms of master planning, infrastructure development, financial modeling and community participation. I look forward to working with Liz and the Steering Committee to engage community partners in a thoughtful and inclusive manner.”

Sunnyside Yard is the busiest passenger railyard in the nation and serves as a key train storage and maintenance hub for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. It also serves as a train storage yard for New Jersey Transit and Long Island Rail Road. Decking over a portion of the 180-acre site could bring significant new investments in parks, schools, affordable housing and other critical services to Western Queens. With the railroads currently undertaking critical capital investments in its rail infrastructure, this is a once in a generation opportunity for the City and Amtrak to coordinate long-term planning for the future of the Yard.

Sunnyside Yard Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is expected to meet approximately quarterly over the anticipated 18 month process. The Sunnyside Yard planning team will also be hosting public meetings, workshops, attending civic meetings and canvassing to better understand the needs of individuals that live and work in western Queens.

Elizabeth Lusskin is the President of the Long Island City Partnership, a neighborhood development organization for Long Island City. Previously, she served as Chief of Staff and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University. She is an attorney with nearly two decades of experience in non-profit management, economic development and government service, and helped clients increase their effectiveness through improved focus, organizational structure and strategic implementation.

Sharon Greenberger is the President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York, a leading non-profit organization providing programs and services focused on promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility. Previously she served as Senior Vice President at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where she oversaw active projects geared towards expanding and improving facilities to serve the needs of patients and their families. Sharon received her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and holds a master’s degree in City Planning, with a focus in Housing and Community Development and Environmental Design, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Other Steering Committee Members include:

  • Alicia Glen – Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development
  • Tony Coscia – Chairman of the Board, Amtrak
  • Angela Pinsky – Executive Director, Association for Better New York
  • April Simpson – President, Queensbridge NYCHA Tenants Association
  • Bob LaCroix – Retired, Amtrak
  • Carlo Scissura – President and CEO, Building Congress
  • Dean Devita- Secretary-Treasurer, National Conference of Firemen & Oilers
  • Deborah Alexander – Co-President, Community Education Council 30
  • Denise Keehan-Smith – Chair, Community Board 2
  • Elizabeth Erion and Gerry Caliendo – Land Use Committee Chair, Community Board 1
  • Felix Ciampa – Executive Director, Urban Land Institute New York
  • Gail Mellow – President, LaGuardia Community College
  • Gary LaBarbera – President, Building and Construction Trades Council
  • George Stamatiades – President, Dutch Kills Civic Association
  • Holly Leicht - EVP, Real Estate and Planning, Empire State Development
  • Jaime-Faye Bean – Executive Director, Sunnyside Shines BID
  • Janno Lieber – Chief Development Officer, MTA
  • Jonathan Bowles – Executive Director, Center for an Urban Future
  • Judy Zangwill – Executive Director, Sunnyside Community Services
  • Lisa Deller – Land Use Committee Chair, Community Board 2
  • Lynne Sagalyn – Professor, Columbia University
  • Marie Torniali – President, Steinway Astoria Partnership BID
  • Mary Ceruti – Executive Director and Chief Curator, SculptureCenter
  • Melissa Orlando – Executive Director and Founder, Access Queens
  • Mitchell Moss – Director of Rudin Center, NYU
  • Pedro Gomez – President, Court Square Civic
  • Sheila Lewandowski – Member, LIC Cultural Alliance
  • Sylvia White – Co-Chair, Justice for All Coalition
  • Thomas J. Grech – President & Chief Executive Officer, Queens Chamber of Commerce
  • Tom Wright – President, Regional Plan Association

New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.