sunnyside yard sign

Late last year US Transportation Secretary signed a $2.6billion Full Funding Grant Agreement to construct the East Side Access, which will provide a connection between the LIRR and Grand Central Terminal, and create a last-exit-in-Queens stop in Sunnyside, closer towards the city than the current Woodside stop.

The PlanNYC website sums up the size of the yard:

The property, which is owned by Amtrak and is primarily used by New Jersey Transit, is enormous. It runs from Laurel Hill Avenue on the east to Hunters Point Avenue on the west. To put it into perspective, if the property were in Manhattan, it would span 42nd to 59th Street, from Fifth Avenue to Lexington Avenue.

Laurel Hill Avenue, otherwise known as 43rd Street, is where I currently live, and the Flux Factory site is located on the exact eastern edge of the development project. What does the future hold for our not-for-profit? It is unclear. We will most likely have to move within a year or so. Personally I would like to stay in Queens for a number of reasons, and think a move would be good for restructuring the organization (and of course give me the opportunity to build new bookshelves! schweet!).

The images below show the progress the MTA has already made on the eastern-most fringe of the development site; they’ve ripped up a good number of old train track and filled them in with gravel, likely to be paved over and built anew. Just under the bridge from which the first photo was taken, there are large numbers of materials and trucks parked.

sunnyside yard plowed

sunnyside yard plowed detail
through trees one can see the Flux Factory roof

The project is slated to be completed by 2013, and afterwards housing and commercial development will sprout up around the terminal (that same PlanNYC article puts it between 18,000 to 35,000 housing units alone!). What will Sunnyside look like in a decade, or two (resources like Flickr are already providing an archival look at development of the area)? With an influx of new residents, will area infrastructure such as subways be forced to upgrade(did somebody say G Train?)? I’m really not sure how I stand on this one because I understand it’s pointless (and a waste of other resources) to have LIRR riders go all the way in to Penn Station, when they should be arriving at Grand Central, but building a terminal at this area will also help allow gentrification of the area or at the very least drive up the housing market, making the tip of Queens even less affordable – while it’s good now it isn’t great, and this development could make it out-of-reach for many current residents.

But it is interesting to see such a major development unfurl, almost literally in one’s backyard.

Related websites:
MTA’s East Side Access page