Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo are at odds over the potential to turn the Sunnyside Yards into affordable housing for artists. Just an hour after de Blasio laid out his plan in Tuesday’s State of the City address, Cuomo’s office released a statement saying that the 200-acre space in Queens is “not available” for any non-transportation use in the “near term.”
On Wednesday, de Blasio pushed back, saying to WNYC, “Look, I think as we talk to the governor’s folks, as we talk to the MTA, we’ll find our way toward the kind of vision that works for everyone. They have other things they think are a priority for that site. There’s plenty of room on that site.”
The original plan outlined on Tuesday called for 11,250 units built on top of the rail yards:
We know that New York is the city it is today in part because of the contributions from generations of artistic visionaries who at one point struggled to make ends meet. So we’ll provide 1,500 units of affordable live/work housing for the artists and musicians who make New York culture so vibrant … as well as 500 dedicated affordable work spaces for the cultural community.
Cuomo, too, has refused to back down. Crains reports that on Wednesday, Cuomo told NY1 that “Sunnyside Yards is problematic.”
They’ll have time to sort out their differences, as it’s still a year before Amtrak, the site’s largest owner, can look into the feasibility of the project. Similarly, officials are unsure of the costs involved. But on Wednesday, de Blasio remained optimistic. “I think we’re going to find a way forward here,” he said.