Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Right to Oppose This NYC Mega-Development

Fresh from their successful effort to kill Amazon’s plan for a second headquarters in New York City, Queens-area politicians, including “squad” member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.), are trying to stop another mega-development at Sunnyside Yards.

There are good reasons to be skeptical of the Sunnyside Yards project, which involves building a massive deck over a 180-acre rail yard, creating space for the construction of new housing, offices, and community facilities. However, few of those reasons get a mention by Ocasio-Cortez and her anti-development allies.

“The proposal as it stands reflects a misalignment of priorities: development over reinvestment, commodification of public land over consideration of public good,” wrote Ocasio-Cortez and New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer in a letter to the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which is coordinating an ongoing master planning process for the site.

“The proposed high-rise and mid-rise residential buildings would further exacerbate a housing crisis that displaces communities of color and parcels off public land to private real estate developers,” the two elected officials wrote.

Similar objections were raised in a letter by state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D–Queens), who wrote that the EDC “has not embraced a democratic process in implementing public input that prioritizes environmental and social justice.”

The argument that building housing where none currently exists would lead to displacement, and that dense urban development near transit would contribute to climate change, sparked a lot of eye-rolling from free market urbanists.

Michael Hendrix, the Manhattan Institute’s director of

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