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Williamsburg rents soar one year after L train shutdown switch

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Rents in the Brooklyn neighborhood have reached a new record high

A corner of a building and a street sign that reads “Bedford Avenue.” Max Touhey

It’s already been a year since Gov. Andrew Cuomo abruptly called off the dreaded 15-month L train shutdown, replacing it with a “slowdown,” to repair the Canarsie Tunnel. And in the time since that switcheroo, Williamsburg rents—which had significantly dipped after the shutdown plan was first announced in 2016—seem to be back to their expensive normal, a new report shows.

Back in January 2017, median asking rents in the neighborhood fell to $3,000/month, or 8.3 percent lower than the year before; by December 2018, rents had dipped even more, reaching a median of $2,899/month, according to StreetEasy.

Then, in early January 2019, when Gov. Cuomo announced that the complete shutdown of the L train would be called off, renters began to return to the neighborhood, and landlords went back to raising their prices. By November, median asking rents in the neighborhood reached a record high of $3,675/month, a whopping 26.7 percent higher than the year prior. To put that into perspective, in November 2018, median asking rents in the neighborhood went down by 2.5 percent compared to the prior year.

In other Brooklyn neighborhoods, rents also saw an increase in November compared to last year, but not as significant: Greenpoint’s median asking rent was up by 8.3 percent, Fort Greene’s by 1.7 percent, and Park Slope’s by 3.7 percent.

The report does mention that while the rental market was affected by the L train situation, the sales market didn’t budge: recorded homes sales in the neighborhood remained flat from 2018 to 2019.

Originally, the L was due to stop running between Manhattan and Brooklyn for 15 months to facilitate the tunnel’s repairs, a move that would have left Williamsburg (and other neighborhoods along the L) with few options for getting to Manhattan. Instead, the project became a ‘slowdown’ with reduced service on nights and weekends. Work is now expected to be completed in the next few months.