First of a two-part series; read part two here.
For the 225,000 commuters who normally take the L train from Brooklyn to Manhattan, April 27, 2019 would have been doomsday. On that date, the MTA was supposed to have completely shut down L train service between the two boroughs in order to make much-needed repairs to the Canarsie Tunnel, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The renovation was scheduled for 15 months. First announced in 2016, the rehabilitation plan would have necessitated additional subway service on other neighboring subway lines as well as alternate forms of transportation such as buses and ferries.
But then on January 3, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the stunning announcement that he was halting the scheduled full L shutdown, opting instead to go with an alternative plan recommended by a group of engineering experts that included rehab work to be done on nights and weekends through the use of new technology. He said in a statement that this new plan “would be faster, better and probably less expensive.” (This past Tuesday, the MTA board held an emergency meeting to discuss Cuomo’s new plan, which would involve another way of mounting cables in the tunnel).
Before Cuomo's surprising reversal, talk of a shutdown not only had residents in Williamsburg and parts of North Brooklyn preparing for the worse, but also raised questions about real estate values in those affected areas. From all the brouhaha generated, it appears that renters emerged as the huge winners. Streeteasy reported last August that landlords with properties along the L train offered lower rents as incentives to tenants. And according to another Streeteasy post from last week, those tenants who signed leases for homes in North Brooklyn last year saved an estimated total of $26.5 million in rent.
Meanwhile, some local real estate professionals offered views on Cuomo's announcement and the the original shutdown plan’s impact on apartments sales prices. Gary Malin, President of Citi Habitats, tells The Cooperator that suspension of the full shutdown would not only benefit the commuters but also real estate in the areas served by the L line, including Williamsburg. “Owners that were being impacted on the L train line were clearly making concessions necessary for tenants,” he says, “and those tenants understood what sort of bargain they were getting. [Cuomo’s decision] sort of takes away this sort looming anxiety that would certainly preoccupied a lot of people's minds.”