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News about L Train brings joy followed by anger and confusion

News about L Train brings joy followed by anger and confusion

(Credit: Getty Images)

(Credit: Getty Images)

With yesterday’s announcement that the L Train shutdown has been cancelled, most of us affected have gone from feeling shock, to joy,  to confusion. 

Commuters and business owners are the biggest winners, but let’s not forget about our lucky neighbors who received rent reductions:

Rents in North Brooklyn have fallen a cumulative 1.5 percent since the shutdown was first announced, while rents borough-wide increased by a cumulative 3.3 percent.

“Look for rents to rise sharply as many who thought they were forced to look elsewhere adjust to the new reality of minimal disruption,” Long said. “However, the plans announced today include a substantial degree of uncertainty that could weigh on both sales and rentals in the area going forward.”

Long added: “While we predicted that many Brooklynites had underestimated the inconvenience of the looming shutdown, we expect many will similarly underestimate the commuting headaches that still lie ahead, with officials trading a sharp but short period of inconvenience with a less disruptive but more uncertain plan.”

Williamsburg resident, Melanie Brkich, 28, was among those to land a sweetheart deal when she moved into $2,300 two-bedroom apartment in November.

“I could never live in this neighborhood normally. But because of the shutdown rents in this area were massively dropped,” Brkich said.

On the other hand, landlords who’ve already reduced their tenants’ rents won’t be so happy, but overall it’s good news for developers, landlords, and other miscellaneous gentrifiers.

Condo developers experiencing weak demand have been offering concessions to attract buyers, such as paying transfer taxes.

Tamir Shemesh, a broker at Douglas Elliman, is marketing units at 308 N7, a condo building on North Seventh Street. He said the developer is waiting to see if Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement Thursday to avert the looming shutdown will unleash “pent up demand” before raising prices.

“It’s fabulous news,” Mr. Shemesh said, of the governor’s announcement. “The first buyers that come will have an opportunity to get the current prices.”

Of course, people who uprooted their lives because of the impending shutdown have a different story to tell.

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Then there are the multiple businesses that closed (in part) because they anticipated losses in revenue. Brooklyn Star and Delaware and Hudson are two of our favorites that come to mind. We miss them both and expect their former owners were floored by the news.

We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out for Cuomo. For a moment yesterday he was a hero for averting this catastrophe for commuters. But as the news sunk in, people begin to question why it took the governor so long to get involved. Plans have been underway for years by the MTA and DOT, so why was Cuomo asserting his power now after so much time and money has been wasted.

“The questions it raises in terms of process are, if this was possible, did the MTA think about this years ago when this problem became apparent?” says Jon Orcutt of the TransitCenter. “If so, why did they reject it? If not, why weren’t they looking around the world at new ways of doing things? If the governor wants to bring in independent engineers to review big things they’re doing, why can’t you do it much earlier in the process?”

Former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who’s currently running for public advocate (on the Fix the MTA line, no less), is more skeptical; she released a statement that began “Um, what?” and criticized the process that led to this point.

“Of course everyone wants the subway fixed quickly and running smoothly, but the MTA and the Governor owe New Yorkers the truth about why this new plan came so late in the game,” Mark-Viverito wrote. “Families moved neighborhoods, businesses suffered, and suddenly the Governor says—just kidding? Subway riders are sick of being lied to and jerked around. After two years of being told one story, New Yorkers deserve to know what systematic failures led to a shutdown being deemed necessary before all options were explored.”

Even Politico is weighing in:

MTA’s Ronnie Hakim and Pat Foye briefed New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on the plan Wednesday night, and briefed City Hall and DOT officials during a conference call Thursday morning.

“This is incredible. In just three weeks, outside academic experts convened by the governor have totally supplanted years of engineering planning by the MTA and its contractors on the MTA’s highest profile project,” Reinvent Albany’s John Kaehny told POLITICO.

“Either the academics are wrong or the MTA and its vendors are totally incompetent. The MTA has had years to get the L train tunnel closing right. Haven’t they been talking to top experts? What does this say about all the other disastrously delayed and over budget projects the MTA is mired in?”

Predictably, Cuomo is playing both sides of the fence, saying he’s not in charge of the MTA, even though yesterday’s announcement proves that he clearly is:

Immediately after announcing the plan, he reminded journalists that he doesn’t run the agency he had just cooked it up for. “I’m not in charge of the MTA,” he declared, which means, I’ll take credit if it works, but it’ll be their fault if it doesn’t. “It’s a last-minute switcheroo, which hasn’t undergone the same rigorous public process that the shutdown plan did,” says Ben Kabak, who writes the transportation blog Second Ave. Sagas. Cuomo convened the deans of Columbia and Cornell’s engineering schools, who took only a few weeks to come up with a plan that relies on an untested combination of engineering approaches that have never been used to repair a damaged subway tunnel. More worrisomely, the people in charge of deploying this new technology are the MTA, an agency that has had trouble installing countdown clocks that actually tell passengers when the next train will come. “They’re saying they’re going to cross their fingers and hope it works,” Kabak says.

Luke Ohlson best sums up how we feel. Since this is still a breaking story, check back for updates.

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The post News about L Train brings joy followed by anger and confusion appeared first on Free Williamsburg.


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