The impending L-train apocalypse has rents in Williamsburg plunging

Spencer Platt/GettyWilliamsburg rents are falling ahead of the L-train shutdown.
  • Rents in Williamsburg continue to drop as residents move out ahead of the L-train shutdown, according to StreetEasy.
  • The portion of the subway line that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan will be closed for 15 months beginning in April to repair damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.
  • Landlords are offering more discounts to people who will soon renew their leases, StreetEasy said.

New Yorkers looking for a bargain on rent and willing to endure a longer commute may be able to find a sweet spot in Williamsburg.

The Brooklyn neighbourhood is one of the city’s trendiest. But according to the real-estate-listings site StreetEasy, residents are fleeing before a portion of the L train is shut down for 15 months beginning in April.

To entice anyone willing to move in as others relocate, landlords are slashing rents. In June, the monthly costs of 48% of Williamsburg apartments relisted on StreetEasy were lower than their rents two years earlier, the website said in a report released Thursday.

The average reduction was $US250, but rents dropped by about $US400 in several buildings, the report says. StreetEasy found that over the past two years, the luxury building Leonard Pointe had the most units relisted on its platform at a discount. And rents at 44 Berry St. dropped by $US448 on average, the most in the neighbourhood.

“These figures are only likely to increase as inventory grows and the L shutdown moves closer,” said Nancy Wu, a data analyst at StreetEasy.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is shutting down the section of the L train that connects Manhattan and Brooklyn to repair damage caused by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. It plans to increase service on alternatives to the L train, including the G, J, M, Z, and 7 lines.

But on Tuesday, the J, M, and Z lines – like many in the city – were jam-packed during the morning rush-hour commute, previewing what may be in store when the L train shuts down, Gothamist reported.

Williamsburg residents who plan to stay and will soon be renewing their leases have a good bargaining chip in the subway disruptions. Some buildings are already extending the number of months of free rent to three from one or two, Wu said.

“While lower rents are attracting renters to live in (or stay in) Williamsburg, landlords have to compete with each other in a market that has 25% more inventory than it did last year,” Wu said. “In June 2018, almost a third of listed apartments across Williamsburg received a price cut, the highest rate of any Brooklyn neighbourhood.”

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