With the L Train Shutdown Looming over Williamsburg, Where are the Opportunities?

L Train

With the L Train shutting down between Brooklyn and Manhattan for 15 months in 2019, there has been significant speculation about how residents and potential would-be residents will cope with the shutdown. Between ferry service, dedicated bus lanes, shuttles to other subway lines, increased alternative subway line service and ride-share apps, there are many options that can be utilized. While a major inconvenience to Williamsburg residents, property owners, landlords, retail establishments and developers, the bright spot in all of this is that it's temporary and also may offer other parts of the neighborhood to flourish that aren't directly serviced by the L Train.

The L Train has been a Boon for Developers

From the Williamsburg waterfront all the way to trendy Bushwick, the L Train has proven to be a cash cow for developers and property owners. Housing prices have reached record highs in Williamsburg, and the records have spread into surrounding neighborhoods as well. This has resulted in property owners raising rents and developers building more rentals and condominiums to fulfill demand. As prices continued to increase along subway stops closer to the waterfront, developers kept pushing out further into Bushwick, developing vibrant rental and condo communities, surrounded by new retail offerings, like coffee shops, bars, restaurants and clothing boutiques. The 2019 L Train shutdown has thrown a bit of confusion into the air about what the impact will be during the expected 15 month hiatus.

Much of the conversation related to the shutdown has been related to the negative neighborhood impacts, such as potential short-term pressure on property prices, slowdown of new development and impact on the retailers whose livelihoods are based on tourist and commuter foot traffic. While these concerns are well founded, there may also be opportunities hidden amongst them.

Opportunities from the L Train Shutdown

Renters that are looking for good deals on rent and are willing to live directly within the corridor primarily serviced by the L Train, this could be a great opportunity to score a slight discount on rent. Landlords will be happy to strike deals during this time period, but it's important to remember that this will only be temporary. Additionally, for would-be buyers, this might be the perfect time to identify motivated sellers, who need to move their inventory ASAP and are willing to provide a discount worth acting on. Again, these discounts will not be huge, and they will only be temporary in nature. However, only motivated sellers will actually list during the shutdown, so that should be an indication of potential opportunity to negotiate a deal.

The J, M and Z Trains will become the New L Train

J Train


It is anticipated that the J, M and Z subway lines will develop a new-found popularity, as they will directly service South Williamsburg and Bushwick. As many renters, buyers and retail proprietors have already been priced out of prime Williamsburg, these train lines have already been building a steady following. Developers have taken notice and many of the stops along these lines have already seen a steady flow of development activity. With the L Train shutdown about a year away, developers have increased their commercial purchases along the J, M and Z subway stops, seeking out vacant lots that they can develop. This also presents an opportunity for new condo buyers looking to buy into quickly accelerating neighborhoods with potential for continued property value growth.

An example of a new development along the J, M & Z Train Stops

An example of a new development along the J, M & Z Train Stops

Read: No L Train, No Problem. How Williamsburg will Continue to Thrive through the Closure

Overall - Impact of the L Train Shutdown

The L Train shutdown will result in short-term pain for Williamsburg, but once the subway tunnel repairs are complete, the neighborhood will come out of the gate with a vengeance. Expect growth to continue rapidly accelerating, property prices continuing to increase and retail establishments to flourish. In the mean time, there is a great opportunity to see what's going on outside of the L Train corridor and see how Williamsburg and Bushwick are developing along the J, M and Z Trains.