QUEENS — Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to build more than 11,000 units of affordable housing over the Sunnyside rail yards has some local leaders wondering how such a development would impact the surrounding neighborhood.
While the officials said they recognize the need for more affordable housing, several expressed concern about how developing the site might strain existing infrastructure, including schools and the already-crowded 7 train line.
"I don’t fault the mayor for thinking ambitiously, but it is a very tricky riddle to solve in Sunnyside Yards," said State Sen. Michael Gianaris.
"The details are unknown and incredibly important," he continued. "What exactly is the mass transit plan? How many schools are going to be built to accommodate all the people there? There is so much from a planning perspective still to go."
In his State of the City address on Tuesday, de Blasio proposed building 11,250 affordable apartments above the tracks at the 200-acre rail yard, likening the project to earlier developments like Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo tried to shoot down the idea, though the city owns the air rights to 44 acres of Sunnyside Yards that it can legally build above as long as it does not interfere with train operations.
"The goal is admirable. The scope of it is grandiose, and maybe even courageous, but is it realistic?" said Pat O'Brien, chairman for Community Board 2.
He said while there are still too many unknowns to either oppose or support the plan, there are concerns about how the already growing area would accommodate several thousand more residents.
"How can one area absorb that many more people?" he said. "The infrastructure hasn't even caught up with the more recent [population] increase."
Those concerns, outlined in a Daily News op-ed in December, include worries over the effects of cleaning up the industrial site and how more residents would overcrowd already crowded schools, buses and train lines.
"I know I speak for mass transit users as well as the many residents and businesses and cultural and educational hubs in western Queens when I say true community review is needed," Nolan said in a statement Wednesday.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer expressed similar ideas. In a statement, he said he "applauds" de Blasio's goal of expanding affordable housing in the city, but added that he has expressed his concerns to the mayor.
"When we are talking about building more housing we also need to talk about schools, parks, cultural spaces, live/work spaces for artists and meaningful transportation enhancements in Western Queens," his statement read.
The mayor's office said it will be starting a feasibility study this month to assess costs and other factors related to developing the yards, according to a press release, which mentions the need for "new open space, transportation and schools."
Gianaris said addressing those infrastructure needs is crucial.
"We have miles to go before this thing even hits the drawing board," he said. "I won't be supporting anything the community's not comfortable with."