A brief thought on transit access and the rental market

By · Published in 2013

It’s no real secret that New Yorkers are more than willing to pay a premium for access. Housing in the middle of Manhattan costs more than housing in the far reaches of Brooklyn and Queens, and Craigslist rentals tout access to nearby subway stations as a selling point. It’s a bit surprising then to read this Wall Street Journal article and see nary a mention of transit.

The gist of the article is this: Some renters are moving to Outer Borough developments instead of what The Journal calls “less-sought-after” neighborhoods in Manhattan. Josh Barbanel credits this willingness to cross the river “first because of lower rents, and later because of their grittier feel.” Now, though, rents are rising in these areas — such as Long Island City — while Midtown East, Murray Hill/Kips Bay and Midtown West have seen rents remain stagnant or even decline slightly.

As landlords look to space and amenities as one explanation, access is definitely another. It’s easier and quicker to take the 7 train from Long Island City to Grand Central than it is to get from 44th St. and 11th Ave. to the East Side. Waterfront neighborhoods in the Outer Boroughs have far superior transit access to Manhattan’s key job centers than do the neighborhoods cut off from the subway system. This is, of course, why Manhattan landlords should push for a Second Ave. Subway, a station along the 7 line at 41st and 10th and various other Manhattan-centric capital projects. Transit access remains a major, underappreciated driver of the New York City housing market, and somehow, The Journal omitted it.

7 Responses to “A brief thought on transit access and the rental market”

  1. Bill says:

    Can it work the opposite way? Will giant condos along the Greenpoint waterfront push the MTA to improve G train service?

  2. capt subway says:

    With that crappy, slow speed terminal at Court Sq the best you’ll ever get on the G is a 6 minute headway. Of course they could go to full length trains.

  3. Guest #1 says:

    Does anyone know if the 7 train to/from 34th st will be very slow on that curve/whatever?

  4. Matthew says:

    It will be interesting to see what impact the 7 line extension will have on reducing residential construction demand from the outer boroughs. Given how fast rents are increasing in areas with good transit access it is possible that when the 7 line opens up next year it will create a new neighborhood with good transit access to absorb some of the residential demand, and slow some of the rent increases.

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