The Bedford Avenue L train station in Williamsburg. (Photo by Shutterstock)
In a city in which the “where-to-rent” calculus can feel like a high-stakes betting game, North Brooklyn renters who just signed leases were probably the first to rejoice at Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement last week that a full L train shutdown may not need to happen after all. But now a new report from the listings and residential data firm StreetEasy is putting a dollar figure on the savings North Brooklyn renters incurred from falling rents due to the anticipated 15-month transit interruption on the L line: as much as $26.5 million.
The figure is based on the (reasonable) assumption that rents for all those who inked new lease deals on the roughly 20,000 units listed on StreetEasy last year in North Brooklyn—which includes Williamsburg and Greenpoint—would have kept up with the rest of the borough: a 3.3 percent cumulative rise since April 2016. If rents would otherwise have remained flat, StreetEasy estimated that the total renter savings was at least $6.4 million.
Since 2016, when news of the L train repair plan was first made public, rents in neighborhoods along the L line have fallen 1.5 percent. As of October, the monthly median asking rent in Williamsburg was $3,000.
Although all of this might suggest that moving to a transit-crippled neighborhood is a good way of scoring a rent deal, there’s still plenty of demand in transit hubs. The report says that as of October 2018, rents in pricey central neighborhoods in Manhattan like Downtown and the Upper East Side were growing at a faster rate than central areas in Brooklyn or Queens.
But for diehard Brooklynites hunting for a new apartment along the L, the advice from experts is to pull the trigger ASAP. Grant Long, the economist who wrote the StreetEasy report, predicts that rents will “rise sharply over the next few weeks.”
Then again, who knows what could happen next? Maybe worries over the toxic dust that might be kicked up during the L train tunnel repair might be enough to dampen the market.