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Brooklyn Residents, Developers Brace for L-Train Shutdown

The news of the L-train shutdown caused strong reactions among Brooklyn residents, but not only them. Brokers, developers, landlords and business owners alike are worried about what the shutdown will mean for their businesses. So far, it looks like everyone needs to stay on top of the situation if they want to get through those 15 months of repairs unscathed.

Despite how ominous the shutting of the L-train sounds for those living in the area, there are some developers who aren’t very concerned about it—yet. One example is real estate developer and chairman of Douglaston Development LLC, Jeffrey Levine, who, according to The Wall Street Journal, isn’t very worried about the looming shutdown.

Furthermore, Levine’s most recent development in Williamsburg just hit the rental market and it looks to be thriving. Levine told the WSJ that Level, his 41-story rental tower on the East River, has been “renting fantastically well” in the three months since it went on the market, with 120 of the tower’s 544 apartment units already rented.

There is one more reason why the chairman doesn’t concern himself with the shutdown of the transit lifeline. Levine’s newly built tower at 2 North 6th Place doesn’t just feature a waterfront view, but also benefits from a ferry landing. The ferry stop is expected to step up service during the 15 months of repairs on the L-train. Additionally, Douglaston Development is planning to bring in a free shuttle bus service for when the train line closes. The shuttle bus will drop off Level residents near to two subway lines, which provide convenient connections to both Midtown and Downtown Manhattan.

Developers from neighborhoods who are not facing a transit problem are trying to take advantage of the L-train shutdown and bring in more revenue. The methods used are quite creative as well—developers are trying everything from hashtags to paid links, in their attempt to draw in more revenue.

According to The Real Deal, one particular hashtag, namely “#Williamsburg,” directs people to pictures of a recently completed apartment building in Downtown Brooklyn, yet Levine doesn’t seem worried about this either. He told the WSJ that he doesn’t concern himself with this type of strategy using word ads based on “Williamsburg rentals,” claiming that “If you are putting in a keyword to buy a Porsche and someone presents you with a Volkswagen, you are going to buy the Porsche.”

What does the L-train shutdown entail?

Superstorm Sandy hit the L-train tunnel in 2012, the saltwater gravely damaging its infrastructure. Since then, the tunnel has been in need of extensive repairs, but because shutting down the main line of transportation between Brooklyn and Manhattan requires careful planning, the repairs have not been started yet.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority took its time and discussed at length the pros and cons of two possible repair plans: a partial closure of three years, or a complete closure of 18 months. In the end, the second plan won, and the repairs budget rose to a total of $477 million. The repair work will be carried out by Judlau Contracting Inc. and TC Electric, which received an additional $15 million as an incentive to have the tunnel ready in 15 months.

According to the MTA, the L-train will undergo extensive repairs: “Demolition and reconstruction of approximately 60,000 linear feet of duct banks, 14,400 linear feet of track and track bed, 270,000 linear feet of cable ducts and associated cables, repair of 7,000 linear feet of concrete lining, and the installation of tunnel lighting and fire systems.”

Additionally, the upgraded tunnel will also have new resilience measures in place to protect it from further storms, and a new power substation at Avenue B that will address the power requirements needed for the growing ridership on the L-train.

In an “everything you need to know” piece, NY Curbed explained the extent at which the L-train shutdown will affect mass commute, and what alternatives will be available during the 15 months of repairs that are scheduled to start in April 2019.

As reported by Curbed, after the shutdown of the Canarsie Tunnel, Brooklyn residents will be able to reach Manhattan using the J, M and Z trains, while the G line will provide transfer points for Queens. There are approximately 225,000 people using the L-train daily, which could easily overload the already crowded alternative lines. Thus, it remains to be seen if the alternatives will prove enough for those relying on the L-train on a daily basis.

For the neighborhoods affected by the L-train shutdown, such as Williamsburg, only time will tell how the shutdown will impact the local real estate market. However, the advance notice from the MTA gives developers enough time to come up with a viable plan to navigate the ominous months that are to follow after the L-train shuts down.

Roxana Poenar

Roxana Poenar

With a taste for learning, Roxana joined PropertyShark in order to expand her knowledge of all things real estate. Passionate about reading and travelling, if she's not at her desk or engrossed in one of her books, then she's probably packing her backpack for a new adventure.

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