Where to Live When the L Train Shuts Down

Where to Live When the L Train Shuts Down

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Others say that ferries, buses, bicycles and motorcycles should tide them over just fine during the project, which officials have estimated will last 15 months.

The degree of inconvenience to be created by the shutdown of the L line to Bedford Avenue may be gauged by the current number of users.

Credit
Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

But still others worry about the prospect of hundreds of thousands of daily L-train riders suddenly spilling into clogged streets, scrambling to get to work.

“I think it will be chaotic,” said Danny Gannon, an accountant who lives on Ainslie Street in Williamsburg and works in Manhattan’s financial district. Next month, Mr. Gannon, 29, will move from his one-bedroom, which he shares with his girlfriend, to a place on the Lower East Side of Manhattan even though it’s smaller and pricier. “We don’t want to deal with the hassle.”

Prospective Williamsburg expats who are looking for new neighborhoods that are similarly packed with millennials, chock-a-block with restaurants and that exude an artsy vibe can find sanctuary elsewhere in Brooklyn, on the Lower East Side, and in the Bronx.

Housing in these areas is often cheaper than in Williamsburg, where, according to the real estate firm MNS, the typical studio rents for $2,690 a month, and one-bedrooms for $3,014. And any savings could be spent on cab fare for trips back to Williamsburg.

South Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Renters don’t have to venture far to find an alternative that has the look and feel of Williamsburg with continuous subway service. In particular, developers seem to be zeroing in on the blocks around the Marcy Street stop of the J, M and Z lines, near the base of the Williamsburg Bridge.

Away From the L Train

Developers migrate to other areas.

Already, the Williams, a 13-story, 82-unit rental that opened last fall, is enjoying an L train bounce, said Mehul Patel, the chief operating officer of Midwood Investment & Development, the building’s developer.

About half of the leases at the charcoal tower are for two years, about double the typical number, Mr. Patel said. He thinks that some of these renters may have wanted to lock in current market rents, because, he said, “they know that options will be limited, when the L train shuts down.” Studios at the building, at 282 South Fifth Street, start at $2,545 a month.

Rising a stone’s throw away, at 263 South Fifth Street, is an even more ambitious project, the Dime, a mixed-use development that will include retail space, offices and 177 studio and one-bedroom apartments in a terra-cotta tower designed by Fogarty Finger. The centerpiece of the $250 million project will be a 1908 Beaux-Arts building, the current Dime Community Bank, which will become a store or restaurant after the interior is restored and renovated.

Projects involving subways “always get delayed, so it will probably go on for much longer than they say,” said Sam Charney, the president of Charney Construction & Development, which is developing the Dime with Tavros Development Partners and 1 Oak Development. It’s to open in spring 2019, just about when the subway shutters, an event that Mr. Charney predicts will be a “real driver, for sure.”

But those seeking trendy Williamsburg-type bars and shops may be disappointed, for now. Under elevated subway tracks, Broadway, the nearest major commercial strip, is dim, loud and a bit dirty, and sidewalk racks sell $4 bath mats. But Dotory, a four-year-old Korean restaurant at No. 353 that is popular for its food and offbeat décor, hints at changes to come.

A view of graffiti at the Telco store at 305 Broadway in South Williamsburg.

Credit
Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn

Until recently little more than a thoroughfare between the Manhattan Bridge exit and other parts of Brooklyn, a section of Flatbush Avenue, which touches Fort Greene and Boerum Hill and is often considered part of Downtown, now gleams with theaters and concert halls, amid a thicket of glassy towers.

Apartments in those towers, which offer lavish amenities like indoor pools, rooftop picnic areas and outdoor movie theaters, are on a par with Williamsburg properties. Studios here average $2,607 a month, according to MNS, while one-bedrooms are $3,271.

But the concessions that some developers are dangling, including a few months of free rent, can make the neighborhood seem less expensive, said Mollie Miller, 29, who in June will reluctantly move here after five years in Williamsburg.

“I just love how you can roll home from some of the best bars in the city” to Williamsburg, said Ms. Miller, 29, a handbag designer in Midtown.

But the L train closure will be a pain, she said. As it is, she already leaves for work a full hour early to avoid the throngs on the L train’s Bedford Avenue platform. “There’s been so much anxiety, and people are already freaking out, that I want to avoid the whole situation,” Ms. Miller said.

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