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De Blasio Defends Sunnyside Yards Redevelopment at St. Pat's for All Parade

By  Jeanmarie Evelly and Katie Honan | March 2, 2015 3:55pm 

 Mayor Bill de Blasio arrives at the St. Pats for All parade in Sunnyside on March 1, 2015.
Mayor Bill de Blasio arrives at the St. Pats for All parade in Sunnyside on March 1, 2015.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

SUNNYSIDE — Mayor Bill de Blasio defended his plan to build over Sunnyside Yards on Sunday, saying the city is in need of affordable housing and that any development would take the needs of the existing community into account.

The mayor made the comments after bystanders at the St. Pat's for All parade were heard chanting against his plan to build thousands of additional units atop the Sunnyside Yards railroad tracks.

"In a democracy people have the right to their opinions," de Blasio said when asked about the negative chants. "I happen to believe that Sunnyside Yards opens an opportunity for a huge amount of affordable housing so people can continue to live in Queens, many of whom are being forced out right now by rising prices."

He added that any development of Sunnyside Yards would be done in a way "that really considers the need of the community and the scale of the communities around it."

"It's a huge site, some parts of that site can accommodate some heightened density, others less so," he said of the 200-acre railyard. "But I think it's the kind of thing we should have a real conversation about how to get right because we need the affordable housing."

De Blasio's plan to develop Sunnyside Yards has been knocked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, while other critics have raised concerns about how such a project could strain the existing infrastructure in western Queens.

The city recently issued a Request for Proposals for a year-long feasibility study of Sunnyside Yards.

"This is the first step in understanding whether development of the Sunnyside Yards is possible, and what it could contribute to the city and surrounding communities," the mayor said in a statement on the RFP.