Hipsters beware. The L-pocalypse is close at hand. But it’s not just the young and bearded who will be inconvenienced. Almost no one is looking forward to the New York transit authority’s plan to shut down the L subway line for repairs. Just ask 38-year-old Brooklyn resident Kevin Lin.
“I’m going to move,” he said while standing on the L train platform at the 14th Street/Union Square station.
Lin, who works in tech, says he doesn’t like the idea of having his daily commute doubled. Neighborhood residents call the plan the ‘L-pocalypse”.
It’s one of those decisions you don’t want to have to make. Faced with damage from Hurricane Sandy, New York City had to make a call – how to buy the time to fix one of its busiest lines. Should it shut down the L train completely for 18 months, OR, reduce service, to a trickle, for years? At last, the city has announced it’s shutting down the L train – for 18 months. The city’s alternate plan includes planned service increases on other subway lines as well as for buses — a lot of them. Part of Brooklyn served by the L train has been a red-hot real-estate market and the line carries a quarter of a million riders under the East River every workday. Many of whom are frustrated.
But not all. “In the grand scheme of things, 18 months is not actually a long time to be without transportation,” said Lauren Riefflin, a spokesperson with Streeteasy, a NYC real estate site. “There’s a near-term perspective and a long-term perspective.”
Williamsburg, one of the hottest markets on the L train, is big with renters, Riefflin said. But if a potential lease overlaps with a major transit construction project –“that could be something to think about,” says Riefflin.
Buyers, on the other hand, may have a different outlook. “Home ownership – it’s a long term thing,” said Sarah Burke, managing director for Brooklyn with the real estate firm Douglas Elliman. “You buy an apartment thinking you’re going to be living there for five to seven years .”
So while losing transportation could be painful, it’s only temporary. And, says Burke, the shutdown could also mean a slowdown on the kind of bidding wars that Williamsburg typically sees for apartments. “Some people could look at it as opportunity,” says Burke, “that maybe they’d be able to come into this marketplace where they might not have been able to before.”
And with low interest rates, you could get a deal. But Brooklyn business owner Thomas Dodd isn’t so sure. “I’m not making any big bets, let’s put it that way,” he said.
Dodd owns Brooklyn Fireproof, a creative-spaces company in Bushwick, Brooklyn, that provides space for film and TV studios to shoot shows like “Top Chef” and “Beat Bobby Flay.” Dodd’s concern is a basic one. “Getting customers,” he said.
In the meantime, Dodd says he’s expanding way beyond the L train. Outside the city – someplace where he can find affordable real estate. Brooklyn, is “a great place,” he says, “but it’s getting difficult to survive.”
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.