All Aboard The Street Car of the Future

Here’s an idea so good we can all jump on board:  the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) was proposed last week in Mayor de Blasio’s State of the City speech. The new, state-of-the-art streetcar would address New York City’s growing need for more efficient transportation between neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, and is a vital component in keeping up with the housing and employment boom in the two boroughs. Investing in our city's crumbling infrastructure is one of the most important things we can do to make sure New York continues to grow and thrive.

The route would span the 16-mile distance from Sunset Park to Astoria hugging the East River, granting commuters quick access to popular and emerging neighborhoods such as Dumbo, Williamsburg, Long Island City, The Navy Yard, and Downtown Brooklyn.  The street car line would also connect underserved neighborhoods with tens of thousands of units of public housing like Red Hook and Queensbridge to emerging job centers.

The BQX will be at least partially funded by the tax revenues generated from higher property values along the proposed corridor, which our industry has played a tremendous role in making possible. Through projects such as Douglaston Development’s 1 North 4th Place, an upcoming residential tower with 510 rental apartments and the first high-rise rental project on the Williamsburg waterfront, the real estate industry is responsible for roughly 41 percent of New York City’s tax revenue. According to Mayor de Blasio, the BQX has the potential to generate over $25 billion of economic impact for our city over 30 years – a shining example of our industry paving the way for even greater economic benefits.

Over the past several years, REBNY members have been hard at work developing new housing and commercial space throughout the five boroughs – and the corridor along the East River has seen a complete transformation.  Two Trees Management’s Domino Sugar refinery project, Rudin Management’s and Boston Properties’ Dock 72 in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the Durst Organization’s project at Hallett’s Point are just a few examples of new development in Brooklyn and Queens that will supply the street car with thousands of riders every day.

Another significant example of the real estate industry encouraging improvements to the city’s infrastructure is the extension of the 7 train line to 34th Street-Hudson Yards. New York’s first new subway station in 25 years, this extension was a critical way to connect New Yorkers to Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States, which will include over 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space, 14 acres of public open space, a luxury hotel, and over 5,000 residences. With the myriad of projects and developments taking place in Brooklyn and Queens, the BQX project will be a life-changing addition to the lives of New Yorkers, and connect thousands of New Yorkers with major upcoming employment hubs.

REBNY applauds Mayor de Blasio for recognizing and addressing the need for investing in modern transportation infrastructure and also our members for building a New York that will benefit from this project. We look forward to seeing this project evolve, and eventually hopping on board for a ride from Astoria to Sunset Park.