Many Sunset Parkers have responded unfavorably to images of a mega-development proposed for Eighth Avenue at 62nd Street, first reported by New York YIMBY.
Sunset Park residents, current and former, think the proposal, a two-block-long plan designed by DXA Studio for the 240,000-square-foot lot that, YIMBY said, “will include two blocks of retail on each side of the development, condominiums, office space, restaurants, a hotel, a gymnasium with pool, public park space, and community facilities,” could result in chaos at an area that is already considered to be highly congested with both people and cars.
The developer for the project — which came about in response to the release of a Request for Proposals by the MTA last December — is New Empire Corp.
This plan is in addition to another mega-development planned for a vacant piece of property abutting Eighth Avenue at 62nd Street that would combine a two-story retail complex, functioning as the base for a total 12-story residential tower with 250 apartments fronting on Seventh Avenue, a 12-story commercial tower fronting on Eighth Avenue and an 11-story hotel tower planned for mid-block.
“The issue I have is infrastructure-based,” said Hector Santiago, who lived in Sunset for 33 years. “Parking is an endemic issue in Sunset Park, especially with the changes to loading zones. Secondly, electrical. Sunset has historically had many fires in underground electrical areas due to surges. Then there are the sinkholes from faulty sewage and water lines that have plagued the area. I personally feel the infrastructure in the area and surrounding isn’t up to par to deal with such a massive new load. Eighth Avenue isn’t known for huge structures, mostly typical four floor buildings.”
“That area is severely congested and chaotic,” added local Ninoshka Garrick. “Adding this complex will just make it worse, if not planned with the community’s needs and input. And what’s the guarantee that when the complex is built, it will truly be open to the residents.”
She also questioned the affordability of the apartments and shopping. “I’m all for growth but if it’s not conducive to the neighborhood or its residents, the chaos and congestion this will bring will be unnecessary and cause more harm than good,” she said.
Former resident Tom Lyons concurred. “In an already heavily congested, over populated area and with an already fragile infrastructure, this would be quite a feat,” he said.
Tony Giordano, founder of Facebook group Sunset Parker, said his group had sent a letter to elected officials in 2014 asked that one mixed-use, three-story building including a hotel, condos and offices in the same area not move forwards without a “very detailed and wide ranged Environmental Impact Study.
“Life is about change; not to change is to stagnate and die,” he said regarding the proposal. “This development could be a wonderful thing for Dyker Heights, Sunset Park and Bay Ridge but we must have a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement to address the impacts on vehicular traffic — cars, trucks and for-hire vehicles; on our current subway and bus traffic — especially subway, given the series of breakdowns, not just in actual service but in communication; on air quality; and on the treatment of wastewater at Owl’s Head (where the emission of foul smells has remained a mystery for 20 years).”
Beyond that, Giordano said, issues also include, “The lack of open space, recreational space and park land (when Greenwood Cemetery is subtracted from Community Board 7’s open space figure, we fall behind other communities to a dangerous level of deprivation), parking and electric grid inadequacies causing brownouts and blackouts each summer.
“A project of this magnitude requires an equal investment in our surrounding infrastructure; to do less would be the equivalent of building a skyscraper on a foundation of sand – it will fail,” added Giordano.
Additional reporting by Helen Klein.