Encircled by thriving neighborhoods that are both tall and small, artistic and prosaic, diverse and even more diverse, Sunnyside should connect, celebrate, and enhance its surroundings. Like the rest of Queens, with its vast industrial and residential neighborhoods, the World’s Fair grounds, MoMA PS1, the Noguchi Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Gantry Plaza State Park, the ideas for Sunnyside must be diverse, creative, and contemporary. These places—like the future-facing borough they call home that led New York into the Jet Age—have never been about the same old same old, never about nostalgia, and never succumb to the banal. Neither should Sunnyside Yard, which could portend our future as a city.“It’s unprecedented in the last 50 years and it’s amazing,” Jonathan F.P. Rose, an urban planner and affordable housing developer, told the Journal. “When you combine those things with schools, parks, health care, social services, it creates the platform for people to move forward economically with their lives.” How Sunnyside Yard will be paid for is a detail that’s yet to be ironed out, and backers of the project admit funding will be an uphill battle moving forward. Cash will likely come from a mix of federal, state, and city resources including affordable housing subsidies and tax-exempt bonds. Sunnyside Yard recently made news when the project's EDC-organized steering committee lost Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sylvia White of the Justice for All Coalition as members. Their resignation came after local residents and leaders strongly objected to the project during a months-long public outreach period. Those in opposition believe that the funds that would be allocated by the city to develop and build Sunnyside Yard should instead be used for more urgent community needs. In her resignation letter, Ocasio-Cortez argued that funds “should be invested in shoring up the existing transportation infrastructure that already exists there or investing it in other under-funded public resources that our community relies on.” “Sunnyside Yards presents an opportunity to build a stronger New York for generations to come that includes more open space, transit, affordable housing, jobs and green infrastructure in western Queens,” wrote an EDC spokesperson in response. “This planning process has always put community engagement at the center. We’re committed to continuing our work with the community to build a strategic vision that can better serve local residents and all New Yorkers.” It was first announced that the New York-based PAU had been selected to develop the project master plan in May 2018. Landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz and Carlo Ratti Associati are among the collaborators that worked alongside PAU in realizing the vision, which as the Sunnyside Yard executive summary states, is “not a shovel-ready mega-development plan, but rather a long-term framework to guide decisions, ensuring that they are led by public priorities, and centered on human needs.” “As an architecture firm deeply committed to advancing equitable, ecological, and joyful cities, PAU has been honored to collaborate with the City, Amtrak, the Steering Committee, our extraordinary consulting team, and innumerable local stakeholders on this intensively community-based, long-term vision for Sunnyside Yard,” said Vishaan Chakrabarti, founder of PAU, in a statement. “At over 180 acres, the Yard represents our city’s most significant opportunity to realize shared progressive goals all in a carbon neutral environment that will set a model globally for sustainable urban growth while maintaining a scale and density reflective of Western Queens. Neighboring communities now have a unique opportunity to leverage this Plan to address long-standing needs in terms of transportation, housing, jobs, open space, social infrastructure, and environmental resilience.” In a 2019 article about Sunnyside Yard, AN editor-in-chief William Menking speculated that “we are more likely to get another version of Hudson Yards on this public land.” Although nothing yet is set in stone, PAU's ambitious master plan helps to ensure that this won't be the case.
Posts tagged with "Amtrak":
The redevelopment of the Chicago Union Station has been a long time coming. The 1925 Beaux Arts station has seen minor repairs in the past few years, but a recently released master plan envisions a complete redevelopment of the historic building and the surrounding area.
Led by Riverside Investment & Development Co., the Goettsch Partners–designed master plan will take the form of 3.1 million square feet of new commercial, retail, and residential space. Divided into three phases, work will begin in the historic headhouse and continue to neighboring properties, owned by Amtrak, above the below-grade railroad tracks. When complete, five new towers will rise above and around the station.
“This building was envisioned by Daniel Burnham in the 1909 Plan for Chicago as the city’s primary rail station,” said Amtrak President and CEO Charles W. “Wick” Moorman IV to the press at the announcement of the master plan. “It is in that spirit, that we have big plans for both this headhouse building and nearby properties owned by Amtrak.”
The headhouse, originally designed by Burnham and completed by Graham, Anderson, Probst & White after his death, is considered a Beaux Arts masterpiece. With its 110-foot-tall skylit great hall, the headhouse has often been used as the backdrop of films, most notably in the climax of the 1987 movie The Untouchables. The new master plan calls for a dramatic addition to the headhouse: Initial designs call for two 12-story residential towers to be added to the top of the building. The existing top portion, which is currently office space, will also be redeveloped. While adding towers to the top of the historic structure may seem drastic, it should be noted that the original design called for a commercial skyscraper to sit atop the building. This technique of matching civic spaces with office high-rises was once popular in Chicago, most famously in the cases of the Auditorium Theatre and the Lyric Opera House.
The rest of the development will follow another once-common building practice associated with Union Station. Immediately to the south of the headhouse, three new towers will take advantage of air rights over a set of 14 tracks that run into the station. The Chicago Daily News building and the Chicago Main Post Office, two of Chicago’s most recognizable art deco icons, were built in the same way, straddling the tracks to the north and south of the station.
Along with the towers, the master plan calls for improvements to the passenger experience as well. Despite serving over 50,000 guests a day, the station, which is mostly underground, is outdated and generally unpleasant. Street-level retail, historic restoration, and a new food hall will all be addressed in the redevelopment. A hotel has been proposed for above the headhouse, and publicly accessible terraces and plazas are also included in the master plan.
Considering Chicago Union Station is the only major train station in Chicago, and the third busiest in the country, its surroundings have seen surprisingly little development over the years. The most recent addition to the area is a $40 million bus transit center designed by Chicago-based Muller+Muller. Ironically, that station will have to be demolished and rebuilt to be integrated into the proposed master plan. But, since no hard dates have been set to implement the new plan as it negotiates the financial side of the project, the transit station is safe for now.
While every major development in Chicago brings with it scores of critics and champions, this one has the potential to spark particularly lively discussions. If the architecture of the project at all resembles the renderings of the master plan, many Chicagoans will have something to say about putting two glass towers on top of their much-loved Beaux Arts landmark.
Ridesharing company Lyft is partnering with Amtrak to help bring train passengers to and from the train station, according to an announcement made yesterday.
Train passengers can now directly hail a Lyft car from within Amtrak’s mobile app. The partnership is an effort to address the first-mile/last-mile public transit problem, which arises when a potential rider is further than a comfortable walking distance to the public transit stop.
Rather than walking to a subway stop and taking the subway to a transportation hub, the ride-sharing industry has marketed themselves as a seamless end-to-end travel for those first and last legs of trips. These car services have long fought for drop-off and pick-up access to airports (and have largely succeeded). Train stations now present a new opportunity for first-and-last-mile service.
Lyft, one of U.S.'s major ride-hailing services, claims that it reaches 97 percent of all Amtrak riders and 80 percent of the U.S population. “As a fixture of American travel, Amtrak makes it simple and convenient for passengers, something Lyft feels passionately about as well,” said David Baga, chief business officer for Lyft, in the press release.
This is not the first partnership that Lyft has rolled out. Just in the past month, it joined forces with Disney for in-resort transit and with Taco Bell for mid-ride taco stops. It also partnered up with Google’s Waymo, a self-driving car company, to roll out autonomous cars. The company’s latest aggressive initiatives have pushed its growth past that of its main competitor Uber.
The partnership is in effect now and new users to Lyft can redeem the code ‘AMTRAKLYFT’ for an additional $5 discount on the first four rides.
Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the 2018 state budget this month, nine days behind schedule. State operating funds (excluding federal and capital) stood at $98.1 billion—up two percent from 2017. All in all, New York will receive $153.1 billion in funding (including federal and capital funds).
Much of this money will be spent on infrastructure. The Greater Rochester International Airport will receive an initial $39.8 million to kick-start its transformation, with overall project costs estimated at $53.7 million. JFK too is in line for major—and much-needed—changes. The Kew Gardens Interchange will receive $564 million to aid the reconstruction of and expand capacity along the Van Wyck, improving access to the airport. Most of the changes to JFK Airport itself will come from a $7 billion private investment that will modernize terminals and accommodate a projected increase in passengers.
However, Governor Cuomo’s statement also burned bridges. The 77-year-old Kosciuszko Bridge, to be specific, will be demolished (a celebration party is being held on July 11). In its wake, two new state-of-the-art bridges, one Queens-bound and one Brooklyn-bound are to be constructed with a dedicated $270 million.
Meanwhile, $15 million will supplement a new Amtrak Station in Schenectady. Improved parking, lighting, and landscaping will fall under this allotted budget as will new walkways leading to the bus and rapid transit areas on State Street and the new parking area on Liberty Street.
But what about housing? Governor Cuomo’s “Vital Brooklyn” plan, which targets health, violence, and poverty in low-income communities around Brownsville, East New York, Flatbush, Crown Heights, and Bedford-Stuyvesant will receive $700 million.
Initially outlined (albeit vaguely) in early March, the $1.4 billion plan asserts itself as a “national paradigm.” It calls for more than 3,000 new multifamily units to be built on six state-owned sites, with options for supportive housing, public green space, and a home-ownership plan.
As part of Governor Cuomo’s “Affordable New York” Housing Program, developers of new residential projects with 300 units or more in certain areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens will be eligible for a full property tax abatement for 35 years. This is, however, if the project creates a specific number of affordable rental units and meets newly established minimum construction wage requirements and the units remain affordable for four decades. Governor Cuomo estimates that the program will create roughly 2,500 new units of affordable housing each year.
Governor Cuomo also outlined plans to fund state parks and protect the environment. As per the $900 million New York Parks’ 2020 initiative, $120 million from the budget will further the “transformation of the state’s flagship parks” and “strategically leverage private funding to improve New York State Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation facilities and services.”
Moreover, Governor Cuomo disclosed $300 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, the most the state has ever pledged toward this. Within this sum, $41 million will be for solid waste programs, $86 million for parks and recreation, $154 million for open space programs, and $19 million for the climate change mitigation and adaptation programs.
- Drexel Square will feature an elliptical lawn and supposedly represent the "continuation of William Penn’s original vision for the city’s 'public room.'" The area will be active during the day and night and is set to "serve as the gateway into University City from Center City and 30th Street Station."
- JFK Boulevard is due to be transformed into a "shared esplanade" linking 30th Street Station with the Armory building. This space will act as an overspill area for commuters and visitors leaving the station, safely integrating pedestrians, bikes, and cars in the same space, "while providing a rich new greenway for the public."
- Market Street, a well-known thoroughfare in Philly, will receive new bicycle and pedestrian lanes, as well as trees that will line the street to counteract noise and pollution.
- The Wintergarden. Renders for the space show an elevated, balustrade-encased area overlooking the streets filled with greenery and families. The surrounding area appears to be laboratories, so it is unclear if this is a specific public space. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) reached out to the developers (Brandywine Realty Trust and Drexel University) for clarification and is waiting to hear back.
University City, a neighborhood in central Philadelphia, on the Schuylkill River, is in for some major changes in the coming decades, thanks to a new redevelopment initiative from Amtrak with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), BrandywineRealty Trust, and Drexel University. 30th Street Station will be the center point of the overhaul, which is part of a vision to build a dense urban neighborhood over a rail yard along the river.
The redevelopment site consists of a total of 175 acres in University City, 88 of which are occupied by the rail yard. The report and renderings released in the 30th Street Station District Plan are the culmination of a two-year study of the site, which extends east of Drexel’s campus, between Walnut and Spring Garden streets, and northeast from 30th Street Station.
The ambitious plan will be put into place over the course of 35 years, starting with capping off the existing Amtrak rail yard to accommodate a proposed 10 million square feet of development. The area will see a total of 18 million square feet of new development and will include housing for ten thousand residents. It will also offer 1.2 million square feet of commercial space to an individual corporate or institutional tenant.
Currently, 30th Street Station serves as one of the central hubs for Amtrak trains on the East Coast and is also a stop on the SEPTA Regional Rail line. The station building, along with the rail yard, is owned by Amtrak and was last renovated in 1991. One prominent feature of the station is the Pennsylvania Railroad World War II Memorial, a 28-foot bronze sculpture of Michael the archangel.
The project is expected to cost $6.5 billion, with $2 billion going to infrastructure investments and the other $4.5 billion to private investment. Among the infrastructure improvements may be the relocation of a ramp for the Schuylkill Expressway in favor of an intercity bus terminal. A new pedestrian plaza will surround the existing train station.
Preliminary renderings put emphasis on expanding parks and public spaces, as well as adding high-rise commercial and residential buildings to the area. According to the official report released by the district, an opportunity exists for the plaza around the station to become a “central civic space,” akin to the one at city hall. The station saw 11 million passengers last year, and the district expects ridership to double by 2040, following Amtrak and SEPTA improvements. The development counts on this ridership to anchor growth around the station.
The name University City was coined as a marketing tactic, in the 1950s, as part of a gentrification effort, to encourage faculty of the University of Pennsylvania and, to a lesser degree, Drexel University to move there.
This redevelopment isn’t the first sign of growth for the neighborhood. Much of University City is a designated “Keystone Innovation Zone,” a program started by the state of Pennsylvania to encourage start-up companies to populate Philadelphia. The program offers tax breaks of up to $100,000 annually for businesses younger than eight years old operating in the Innovation Zone. New companies in the science and research fields are also drawn to the incubator at the University City Science Center, which is in the process of a major expansion. According to a recent report, firms that were incubated at the Science Center bring $12.9 billion to the Greater Philadelphia economy each year.
Amtrak’s first steps are expected to be finalizing the design of the pedestrian plaza and receiving permission from PennDOT to relocate the highway ramp. More detail on the plan can be found here.