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L Shutdown Could Shave Off Up to $450 From Williamsburg Rents, Report Finds

By Gwynne Hogan | August 30, 2016 1:54pm
 Data crunched by FiveThirtyEight found that rents could drop between $200 to $450 during L train work.
Data crunched by FiveThirtyEight found that rents could drop between $200 to $450 during L train work.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

WILLIAMSBURG — Rents could plummet between $200 to $450 a month along the L train line during repair work that will cut off Brooklyn from Manhattan though the drop is most likely to impact high-end listings, according to an analysis of rent data by FiveThirtyEight and a real estate expert.

It's no secret that New Yorkers pay a premium for convenience, though FiveThirtyEight recently crunched the numbers, concluding that on average we pay $56 more per month to be one minute closer to Manhattan’s main business districts by subway.

By those calculations, drawn from 175,000 listings on StreetEasy last year, when commute times surge during the 18-month L train shutdown of service between Manhattan and Brooklyn, rents stand to fall accordingly, FiveThirtyEight concluded.

Repair work to the Canarsie Tunnel under the East River line slated to begin in 2019 could tack on eight minutes to commutes from Bedford Avenue and around four minutes for commuters along the rest of the line, according to FiveThirtyEight

According to those estimates, rents stand to drop to account for that extra time, between $200 to $450 for one-bedroom apartments, FiveThirtyEight projected.

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz said the hadn't yet calculated increased commute times, though he noted that the FiveThirtyEight's estimates may not include wait times or transfer times — or in other words, that commutes could take longer than.

The analysis also found that while rents increase exponentially if commutes are less than 20 minutes away from central Manhattan business districts, reaching more than $4,000 a month for one-bedrooms, they flatten out all together when commutes range between 40 and 80 minutes.

A drop in rents, in that light, stands to most drastically impact those with extra cash to chase more conveniently located apartments, said Ralph Modica, a real estate broker with Compass.

"The people who can afford to pay the premium also have the option to go elsewhere where there’s also more inventory at that price range," Modica said. Apartments under $2,000 on the other hand, “those will probably be less affected because they’re such good rents," he said.

“You can’t find $1750 apartment all over the city," Modica said. “Those apartments are so few and far between.”

Some of the Williamsburg flight from top-end renters could still be mitigated by strong service alternatives that the MTA and the city have not yet hammered out, Modica said.

But obviously not everyone is willing or able to pack up and find a location with a closer commute, Masha Burina from the commuter advocate group, Riders Alliance, said. The group is currently canvassing commuters farther out on the line about what they would like to mitigate about the inconvenience of the shutdown.

"While some people may choose to relocate, others won’t have that option available to them," Burina said. "This is exactly why we’re surveying and engaging riders throughout the route, especially in Bushwick, Canarsie, Brownsville, and East New York. The DOT/MTA will have to offer solutions that work for everyone."

Thus far they've gotten feedback from around 250 people and found that Bushwick residents are interested in increased B38 and B54 bus service, while straphangers in Canarsie are looking for more frequent A and C train service from Broadway Junction into Manhattan.

Take the online survey here.