Home Public Transit Policy A current case study on the impact of transit

A current case study on the impact of transit

by Benjamin Kabak

When the subway came to the Upper West Side, it turned the area into a rural frontier to a densely-populated neighborhood of residential high rises. When the Flushing Line began service, it changed Roosevelt Ave. from a concept to an urban area. These metamorphoses happened decades ago, during the years our grandparents or great-grandparents were alive, but now and then, circumstances change and transit’s impact rears its head.

Recently, when the MTA cut service in 2010, a subsequent rerouting led to a transit-related renaissance of sorts. With the elimination of the V train three years ago, the MTA reactivated the Chrystie St. Cut and brought the M train out of the shadows. Instead of operating from Middle Village to Lower Manhattan (with a rush-hour extension to Bay Parkway), the M became an integral part of a core subway line. It offered Queens and Northern Brooklyn residents a one-seat ride to the 6th Ave. corridor, and the riders have loved it.

Although Lower East Side residents occasionally bemoan the loss of the V train at 2nd Ave., the M train’s eastern segments in Brooklyn have seen shocking growth. The Brooklyn Eagle and City Limits recently explored how the subway drives gentrification. Here’s Orlando Lee’s reporting:

Gentrification that has spilled over from industrial East Williamsburg to residential northeast Bushwick is spreading inexorably southward—thanks to a little help from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The MTA’s decision to reroute the M train through the heart of midtown Manhattan in 2010 erased the invisible barrier that Myrtle Avenue—the area hit hardest by arson fires in the late 1970s—posed for years, real estate experts said .

“It’s all based on the transit system,” said Andrew Clemens, director of retail leasing for Massey Knakal, a real estate brokerage firm. “The proximity to Union Square on the L train made Williamsburg attractive. Now proximity to midtown on the M train is driving the south Bushwick market.”

…For renters, the upheaval is far less welcome. From January to March of this year, Bushwick rental prices have risen almost 23 percent, or $454 dollars, for a two-bedroom apartment, according to internal data from property sales brokerage MNS. Prices are up 17.2 percent compared to the same period in 2012…

The impact of the M-line route change is made evident in ridership figures. Between 2011 and 2012, the first full calendar year of the change, daily ridership at the Central Avenue train station in south Bushwick jumped 18.7 percent, from 2,903 to 3,445 passengers per day, the largest increase in Brooklyn, according to the MTA…

Since the route change in June of 2010, median home prices in Bushwick have more than doubled, from $300,000 in the third quarter of 2010 to $625,000 in the first quarter of 2013, according to MNS. Multifamily buildings are also trading hands at a rapid rate. In 2012, Bushwick captured 28 percent of all multifamily building sales in Brooklyn by Ariel Property Advisors, the highest rate in the borough, according to the investment sales firm.

The numbers portray the economic impact, and the stories Lee uncovered bear witness to it. Bushwick residents are thrilled with their direct connections to SoHo and Midtown. With a direct subway connection to key entertain, shopping and job centers, the areas served by the M train have become that much more desirable as people look for places to live. It’s a testament to the power of public transit.

That said, it’s tough to say if this gentrification is a good thing for the city as a whole. Bushwick and other M train neighborhoods have morphed into other areas where only those with a certain amount of money can afford to live there. Solidly middle and lower middle class residents were willing to suffer the indignities of the transfer at Essex/Delancey if it meant comfortable homes not too far away from Manhattan, but the one-seat ride changes everything.

A few miles north of the Williamsburg Bridge, another subway line is underway, and it too will radically transform an already wealthy neighborhood. When Phase 1 of the Second Ave. Subway opens in three and a half years (or so), areas of the Upper East Side that were far from the subway won’t be, and real estate prices will head ever upward. A new subway route wil again serve as a driver for economic growth, and another pocket of the city will become less affordable for some current residents. In the Big Apple, that appears to be progress.

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John-2 June 13, 2013 - 1:12 am

It’s an interesting ‘what if’ hypothetical on what would have happened to the Broadway-Brooklyn and Myrtle corridors in the 40 or so years prior to 2010, if the TA had made a full commitment to the Chrystie Street connection from the outset in 1967, as opposed to the half-hearted effort put forth over the next 8 1/2 years (and lord knows the ghost of John Hylan couldn’t have drawn up a worse plan for BMT riders that the TA’s original post-Chrystie routing system).

The overall decline of the city’s quality of life in the 1960s and 70s may have been too much for any connection to have overcome, but the rush-hour only service, using some of the oldest equipment in the system at a time when other Sixth Avenue lines were running trains that were (by 1970) mostly brand-new made the KK/K an unappealing option that did little to boost the value of the area’s properties, in terms of allowing an easy one-seat ride into Midtown Manhattan. The M may not be a 24/7 operation, but by operating during the weekday hours most people would be using the subway, at the very least has made the connection as attractive as what the Brighton express B trains do for the major stops on that corridor.

vanshnookenraggen June 13, 2013 - 1:48 am

This begs the question: if the K (or another train) was to be extended out to Broadway Junction would areas of East Bushwick, Bed Stuy, and East NY see the same rapid gentrification?

John-2 June 13, 2013 - 2:36 am

Quite possibly, though the closer you get to B’way Junction, the closer you already were to the A, E (rush hours) and LL trains 40 years ago. But continuation of a midtown K/KK route south of there to Canarsie back in the late 60s and early 70s, and which also ran on at least a 16/5 schedule via Sixth Avenue to 57th Street, might have had a major effect in real estate values south of Livonia, since the LL service was gawdawful back then.

(As for now, the Chrystie connection is limited to a single route, because anything going through it has to share track with the F between B’way-Lafayette and 47th-50th. So if the M goes to 71st-Continental, anything else going from B’way Junction over the Willie B has to go downtown.)

bigbellymon4 June 13, 2013 - 7:19 am

But still, if there was a line that went from Canarsie to Chambers (the old L line), wouldn’t the area have a major growth like the M? If you are on the platform in the mornings, the L pretty much empties at Broadway.

John-2 June 13, 2013 - 8:43 am

If you had, say, a new K train going 71st Continental to Canarsie, while the M had never been switched to Sixth Avenue and continued to run to Chambers/Broad with the J/Z, odds are the current growth north of Broadway along Myrtle would have been shifted to the areas east of Myrtle, along with the area south of Livonia to Rockaway Parkway. But Broadway Junction might still be a wash in terms of growth, because it’s already got midtown service via the A and the C (and a cross platform transfer to the F at Jay Street), while Livona already has the 3 train.

The MTA would also have to juggle rail car numbers and line capacity if a Willie B route was redirected south to Canarsie. That would be a net increase in service along Broadway, since you’d now have J/K/M/Z service going across the bridge, but that would also potentially limit the number of TPH you could run up Sixth Avenue without taking trains away either from Myrtle service or Jamaica Avenue service. Running the M up Sixth still leaves room for TPH increases either on that line or on the J/Z.

Scully June 13, 2013 - 8:22 am

I have to believe that based on the amount of trains that currently take you to the broadway junction, specifically the A (as mentioned above by vanshnookenraggen) that gentrification will be slow coming to these parts. The… ungentrified? people in the area have to live somewhere…

Bolwerk June 13, 2013 - 11:06 am

I think there are a lot of different factors interplaying with the Bushwick changes. There is the M to Sixth Ave., yes, but there is also the proximity to a prime neighborhood, a relatively short distance from Manhattan, nicer housing stock than East NY, and probably social factors like the fact that the people moving to Bushwick probably want to be near friends/institutions/workplaces in Williamsburg and Manhattan.

Still, it is striking what a small change can do. All those factors were there before, but more flexible transit might have been the key missing ingredient.

John-2 June 13, 2013 - 3:21 pm

The other thing is you have to have people wanting to move into the city. When Chrystie opened in ’67 the city was going though an outflow of residents that began in the 1950s, when the goals were larger homes in the suburbs, and planners like Robert Moses (and his counterparts in New Jersey and Connecticut) still believed road problems could be solved with Just. One. More. Highway.

That’s changed with the lower crime rate over the past 20 years in the city, and the realization by suburban commuters and others, that the traffic problems getting in and out of Manhattan are never going to get any better, while some of the ‘new’ homes that were built to take advantage of the new highways are now well past the half-century mark. Long commutes to older homes in need of more repairs are less inviting, so a little thing like the M via Sixth Avenue can make a major difference in opening up a neighborhood (and like I said above, given the overall socio-economic conditions of the late 60s and early 70s, even 19/5 M service to 57th-Sixth back then might not have been enough to make the Bushwick-Ridgewood neighborhoods attractive, to the point that what happened in 1977 along Broadway wouldn’t have occurred).

vanshnookenraggen June 13, 2013 - 1:39 am

I happened to take a little joy ride on the Z train the other day at about 5pm and after going express to Myrtle Ave almost all the the train emptied to wait for the M. With more people going to midtown than lower Manhattan this makes sense.

With the rapid growth in both the M and G trains the MTA better be seriously considering expanding these trains. Longer train sets and expanded operating hours. Oh, and a free transfer at the Broadway station on the G! Come on, that doesn’t even need physical infrastructure just some updated software on the MetroCard machines.

bigbellymon4 June 13, 2013 - 7:02 am

The train sets of the J, M and Z cannot be extended any longer because the Broadway Junction Yard would not be able to hold the trains.

vanshnookenraggen June 13, 2013 - 1:37 pm

Just checked them out on Google Earth.. you’re right! They are small yards.

al June 13, 2013 - 6:49 pm

Fresh Pond Yard (M) can hold 10 car trains on 4 tracks. East New York (L,J,Z) has 6 tracks that can handle 10 car trains.

Matthew June 13, 2013 - 8:31 pm

Yeah, they should rebuild and expand that yard, it doesn’t look like it would be too expensive. Looking at google maps, it looks like they could expand the yard by acquiring the gas station, and the warehouse building north of the yard, rerouting the northern loop further north, and then just extend the tail ends of the tracks to accommodate longer trains.

Andrew June 13, 2013 - 9:34 pm

It’s not the yard that’s the major issue – it’s the station platforms, which are too short for 10 car trains. Also, at least one interlocking, at Metropolitan Av., is too close to the bumper blocks for 10 car trains.

As for the free Broadway transfer, the cost to reprogram the turnstiles isn’t the issue. The problem is that the turnstiles wouldn’t be able to distinguish a true transfer from a stop-over or a round trip, so there’d be revenue loss from people who aren’t actually transferring but would be granted a free transfer anyway. The MTA’s hard-line policy so far has been that MetroCard transfers are only offered to mitigate for service changes that have cut off connections – the only one currently offered, between 63rd and 59th and Lex, is to take the place of the transfer between the F and the 6 previously offered when the F ran via 53rd. The MTA is probably afraid that offering just one transfer that waters down that policy would open the floodgates to other such requests across the city, each with its own revenue loss. I’d love to see it, but I don’t think it’s very likely.

Henry June 15, 2013 - 4:38 pm

Hopefully, it becomes a lot easier when the MTA implements its smartcard system, since presumably each station or bus service will have a unique ID of some sort. (This also helps the MTA a lot more with data collection, so that’s a good thing as well.)

Andrew June 15, 2013 - 11:01 pm

Each station and bus service already has a unique ID, but without exit swipes the system has no way of knowing where people are exiting the subway system.

Exit taps for out-of-system transfers would be a nice enhancement with a smartcard system.

Nathanael June 17, 2013 - 2:04 pm

When London went to turnstiles, they implemented exit turnstiles.

This despite the fact that there are some stations where turnstile implementation was actually *impossible* because the Underground shares *track and platform* with mainline trains which use a different ticketing system. (Those stations still have easily bypassed fare control.)

The NYC Subway cheaped out by not implementing card-swipe exit turnstiles and is still paying the price.

ajedrez June 14, 2013 - 5:18 pm

Not really if you think about it. If they were coming from Midtown, they would’ve been on the (M) already. Those riders would’ve been riders coming from Downtown.

Christopher June 13, 2013 - 2:00 am

I live near Utica in Brooklyn. It’s curious how the development moves up to Utica on the side streets, apartments and houses built in the 1920s and afterward, waiting (or in anticipation of) a line down that street. But Utica? Utica is all the lowest common denominator buildings. Buildings built cheaply to hold the land and make some money — strip malls, autoshops, etc. All are still waiting the subway line that would have made the street somewhat significant.

bigbellymon4 June 13, 2013 - 7:11 am

The subway line that was planned would have benefited everyone from Williamsburg all the way to Kings Plaza. Utica would have been busting with a ton of people by now if the plan was finished. Remants of the started project can be found at the IND Fulton St station

Douglas John Bowen June 13, 2013 - 8:59 am

Can’t win for losing. My mom (departed from Planet Earth now for 22 years) always noted how “rich” people were chastised for running away from New York … then subsequently (or sometimes simultaneously!) belittled for returning to (or sticking with) it.

Mr. Kabak, in his (perhaps youthful?) enthusiasm, should remember a New York aphorism: If you don’t like the neighborhood, wait five minutes. Loading the plight of the poor or less fortunate (always a legitimate concern, yes) on the shoulders of the MTA and/or NYCT seems a bit simplistic, at best.

Alon Levy June 13, 2013 - 7:08 pm

Not exactly. Rich people were chastised for moving to segregated (de jure or de facto) suburbs and using a variety of tools for keeping non-rich people out. They are now chastised for moving to urban neighborhoods and using a variety of tools to keep non-rich people out of their lives, too: historic district designations to raise rents, urban barriers between the new condo buildings and poorer areas, school segregation.

Larry Littlefield June 13, 2013 - 9:01 am

How ironic. Early in the MTA’s history, people in Queens fought against subway expansions, on the grounds that poor racial minorities would follow the subway and move to their neighborhoods.

Now it appears people will oppose subway expansions because it might bring White non-minorities.

tacony palmyra June 13, 2013 - 10:39 am

The Census Bureau just released its latest population estimates by race and Hispanic origin for counties today. Brooklyn gained more than 20,000 non-Hispanic white residents since the 2010 Census, by far the most significant increase in the region. Manhattan gained 5,000.

Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, and other suburban counties in the region lost non-Hispanic white population and gained minority population.

The world has changed, but a lot of people haven’t caught on yet.

AG June 13, 2013 - 4:53 pm

yes and it also released info just today showing that whites are the slowest growing sector of the population and actually had a technical “decrease” (more died than were born) last year. that’s for the U.S. as a whole.

Henry June 15, 2013 - 4:40 pm

Not to mention, the amount of Asians in the city has reached 1 million, and around 33% of children under 5 are of Asian descent.

(That being said, the racial categories the Census uses could use a bit of cleaning up, since there are all sort of weird cases when it comes to how people are categorized.)

Henry June 14, 2013 - 9:16 am

What are you basing this off of? An outer borough extension hasn’t been floated since ’68, N to LaGuardia not withstanding (and that was due to the noise of the Astoria El, not fear of whites).

JMB June 13, 2013 - 9:58 am

I wonder if its technically feasible to alter the Nassau line to make better use of J/Z. Before it makes its turn south down Centre st (coming from the bridge), it gets awfully close to the Broadway line. Any engineers think two of the tracks could be dipped under the Lex and somehow me made to connect with the local tracks of the Broadway line (possibly south of Prince station)?

M train continues using Chrystie st to 6th ave, J train can continue south the Chambers, Z train can utilize the 2 defunct tracks starting east of Bowery to connect to Broadway line.

Jeff June 13, 2013 - 10:39 am

One of the original proposals for the 2 Ave line was to just connect it to the Nassau St line at Delancey St… I believe there were engineering issues with that and they decided against it. But the under-utilization of that line is definitely something that should be looked into.

David Brown June 13, 2013 - 10:45 am

There are several things that can and will be done (Starting with a connection to the “G” at Lorimer or Hewes). I also see more “M” Train service occurring (Because of the 14th St Tunnel shutdown and the Bushwick population increase). One thing that could be done when it comes to a Broadway Line Connection, is building a passageway to the City Hall (“R”)Station, if they ever do a Renovation of Chambers St. But I think that is something for the future.

Andrew June 13, 2013 - 9:37 pm

What’s the benefit? Both Broadway and Nassau lead to the same tunnel to Brooklyn, and Nassau has the higher capacity terminal just shy of that tunnel (Broad has two tail tracks for relaying, while Whitehall has just one pocket track). The Nassau line is also more centrally located for Lower Manhattan purposes and doesn’t have the sharp curves that slow R trains dreadfully near City Hall.

pink l June 16, 2013 - 12:08 pm

I think what he was trying to say was dip the J train underneath the 4, 5 & 6 and have it connect with the R, but heading north into Midtown. It could then act as a W train north of Prince Street

Henry June 17, 2013 - 12:00 am

That would be quite the nightmarish construction project. Construction under active tracks, in the third largest business district in America?

Not to mention, City Hall’s lower level would probably end up getting in the way. It’s a structural support for the upper half of the station, so there’s that.

Henry June 14, 2013 - 9:18 am

Extending the J/Z anywhere is complex because of skip-stop – any delay on one of those lines will deprive riders at certain stations with service, while the other service passes by them.

J/Z skip-stop should be done away with, since it really doesn’t save that much time once you factor in the amount of time spent waiting for a train.

Andrew June 14, 2013 - 6:15 pm

The purpose of J/Z skip-stop, as I understand it, is to attract Jamaica riders to the J/Z as opposed to the more crowded E. Between Jamaica and Manhattan, it saves a good 5 minutes or so. That’s why skip-stop only runs for about an hour in each direction – that’s when loads are heaviest on the E.

For riders at the intermediate stops served by only the J or only the Z, I agree that they’d be mostly better off with slightly slower service at twice the frequency.

Henry June 14, 2013 - 11:18 pm

A much better option to attract Jamaica riders would be to improve the physical plant of the J/Z stations themselves – not even mentioning Chambers, the E level of Sutphin/Archer is reasonably well-kept for all the tourists taking AirTrain, while the J/Z level is darker, danker, and less well-kept than the level above it. There are portions of it held together with plywood and duct tape, for crying out loud.

David Brown June 13, 2013 - 10:30 am

Here is the reality of the matter. There are projections that the Population of New York will increase by 1,000,000 over the next 30 years. If those numbers are close to being correct, the educational, housing and transportation options must and will increase (Which is why Columbia, NYU & Cornell (Roosevelt Island) are doing major expansions, 50 year old plans like the SPURA Housing Development are being dusted off and are being acted on, the “Meatpacking District” is now like Park Ave (And 14 St East of 1st Ave is catching up with it),why not one but two major bridges are being replaced, and the Second Ave Subway and East Side Access are getting built)). Will you have crackpots who want to stop any kind of progress (See Letitia James (WFP-Brooklyn), Doreen Gallo (She of the DUMBO Historical District), and Andrew Berman (Also known as “Mr.I Hate NYU”) of the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation as examples of this), but with the possible exceptions of Central & Eastern Queens, the Development will continue. Prediction: Watch the Northern Bronx (Such as when the Kingsbridge Armory gets turned into an Ice Facility, and the rezoning of East Fordham Road occur) and Ridgewood, Queens to be the next areas ready for that Development.

AG June 13, 2013 - 5:18 pm

I don’t see the Kingsbridge area becoming more dense. Maybe along major thoroughfares – but not along side streets. Yes – East Fordham will change as the Zoo and Botanical Gardens are inputting development… just as they and Fordham Univ. are doing “around the corner” on Webster Ave. That re-zoning just went through and you already see construction going on.
Correction though… the pop. projection is for 9 million… the city is by Census count at 8.36 (which means its prob over 8.4) so it’s “only” an additional 600k. Who knows though.

Henry June 14, 2013 - 9:20 am

Ridgewood? The only section of Queens that’s a PITA to get access to from other sections of Queens?

I see it more likely that the area around Fordham Plaza, Flushing, and Jamaica will become more densely built in the following decades. (Flushing and Jamaica already have vibrant business scenes, and have a relatively unexploited advantage of being ten minutes away from the airports.)

Bolwerk June 14, 2013 - 9:36 am

Ridgewood is getting more popular, but its development is probably going to be limited by zoning and the large amount of historically designated housing stock.

However, I’m not sure many parts of Queens are convenient to many other parts of Queens. Ridgewood is convenient to Williamsburg and Bushwick (and Manhattan, sorta), but then Williamsburg and Bushwick are mostly not very convenient to other parts of Brooklyn.

Henry June 15, 2013 - 4:55 pm

Williamsburg and Bushwick have extensive bus services to other parts of Brooklyn.

Most of Queens has access to a robust network of frequent services, as depicted in a map I created here. https://queenstransit.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/ten-minute-network-frequent-transit-map-v3-1/

Ridgewood has connections to Downtown Brooklyn and Williamsburg, but that’s about it. (The Q58 comes from Queens, yes, but it’s also the slowest bus route in the borough at 7MPH.

Bolwerk June 16, 2013 - 12:22 pm

It’s hard to exaggerate how below par those “extensive bus services” are with what Brooklyn and Queens actually need in the way of transit. Buses are okay for minor feeders and last mile service, but pretty well a joke on distances covering the entire Brooklyn stretch of Myrtle Avenue or parallel streets. That’s a job for rail.

Henry June 17, 2013 - 12:03 am

It’s not the best, but you have to make do with what you’ve got. SAS is going to suck up construction funds for a very long time, and even then, Eastern Queens has never been a major transit priority. (Utica, Nostrand, and 3rd Av will probably get you more bang for the buck ridership wise, although a Hillside line or a Merrick Line would lead to the biggest reduction in commute times. And when was the last time anyone proposed an extension of the 7?)

Bolwerk June 17, 2013 - 7:36 pm

Make do? That’s just it. Many people don’t make do. They just vote with their feet. Of those who stay, they suffer, often because they have little choice. Even many of the hipsters who move into Bed Stuy and Clinton Hill get out if they can. Shitty transit literally retards neighborhoods.

David Brown June 16, 2013 - 7:47 am

Middle Village is far worse than Ridgewood (try driving on Metropolitan Ave sometime).The problem with Jamaica is with the exception of the area near the Transportation Hub and York College, it is almost like Soccer: Expected to be the “Next Frontier”, but not making it for whatever reason. In the case of Flushing, you better be Chinese or Korean (Main St is more Chinese than Canal St itself). Why I like Ridgewood, is you have the Myrtle-Wyckoff “L” & “M” Train hub (As well as decent bus connections 6 busses go directly there and the B18 is close by),you can even take a 5-10 minute trip to BJ’s for shopping on Metropolitan).Basically, with a rezoning, they can get rid of the Industrial Area, and can almost be an add on to Bushwick (perfect for the hipster types).

AG June 16, 2013 - 9:41 am

No – they can’t get rid of manufacturing. Immigrants and lower educated natives need manufacturing jobs… there is no more mass manufacturing in big cities like NYC – but there absolutely must be room for niche manufacturing. NYC is actually becoming a brand in itself. Brooklyn Brewery exports a good amount of it’s brew… NYC is becoming the hub for consumer 3-D printing in the U.S. (see Shapeways and MakerBot or even Quirky). “Greener” manufacturing can certainly fit in with “mixed use zoning”… but they absolutely cannot just get ride of industrial zoing.

Also – don’t diss “soccer”… regardless of its status in the U.S. it is by FAR the most popular sport worldwide. Plenty of ppl play it in NYC. Cricket is the #2 sport in the world – and likewsie plenty of ppl play it. Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx has the largest cricket pitches in the U.S. and on weekends they are packed.

Bolwerk June 16, 2013 - 12:25 pm

Brooklyn Brewery brews in Utica more than Brooklyn – Brooklyn really is not much more than a brand. There isn’t much point in eliminating manufacturing jobs that are left, but we can probably expect them to keep trickling away, and can definitely say manufacturing is not a panacea.

AG June 16, 2013 - 11:37 pm

They brew in Utica because space is expensive in Brooklyn… The Bronx Brewery just took out space in Port Morris to brew. There is a new brewery going into the old Taystee cake factory in West Harlem.
No one every said manufacturing would be a panacea… but it MUST still exist. See the success of the Navy Yard. The trend is for craft products – whether beer or furniture or robotics (see a company like Honeybee). Allowing those jobs not to flourish means that either all the lower class will move out to the suburbs for jobs – or they will be reverse commuting.
A lot of old industrial space is even being converted to storage… Why? In a city that gets more and more crowded… ppl need places to store things. It’s a very delicate balance. This is not wide open country.

Bolwerk June 17, 2013 - 11:33 am

I’m not sure how much that kind of manufacturing is going to offer low-skilled workers anyway. Niche manufacturing is often high-skilled, requiring either high education or years of training. Even brewing often requires knowledge of chemistry.

AG June 17, 2013 - 7:02 pm

Of course when it comes to things like design of things like robotics (Honeybee) and body armor (like Crye in the Navy Yard) high levels of education are necessary… but there are jobs in some of those for low skilled ppl.
On the other hand – food manufacturing is actually the major bright spot for low skilled workers in the city.

David Brown June 16, 2013 - 7:26 pm

I am glad you think Cricket is more popular worldwide than Basketball. Basically sports like Cricket (at least in this Country) are recreational sports (Professional Soccer is a bit bigger here (although it has not caught up to Hockey)). I strongly favor cleaning up toxic waste dump areas like Willets Point & Hunts Point (Exactly where they should put the Manchester City Soccer Stadium, which would help in that process), for the same reason I am glad to see the “Meatpacking District go: The replacement Condo’s are much nicer. I would love to see Bushwick and Ridgewood become the next DUMBO, Fort Greene and Williamsburg, and as those areas become more upscale, the transportation systems servicing them will improve as well.

AG June 16, 2013 - 11:28 pm

Asia is the most populous continent… do you not know how important it is in India and Pakistan alone? Remember when it was said “the sun doesn’t set on the British empire”? well cricket is big in all those countries.
Also – track & field is more popular worldwide (again I’m talking spectators) than basketball.

Hunts Point is not changing from industrial anytime soon. Most of the food New Yorkers eat goes through Hunts Point… and that’s increasing… Willets Point is a different scenario.

Henry June 17, 2013 - 12:09 am

Both Jamaica and Flushing are undergoing large expansions in retail and hotel space. Since both of those areas also host a large number of middle and upper-middle class people transferring to transit services, it isn’t completely unreasonable to think it’ll also house offices, in the way that Exchange Place became a back-office hub due to the large amount of professionals living in New Jersey.

(Actually, this might be occurring already, albeit very slowly – the amount of people leaving Jamaica Station from westbound trains in the morning has increased over the years.)

AlexB June 13, 2013 - 11:04 am

I think the growth in Bushwick has more to do with gentrification in general and less to do with the new route of the M specifically. Had the M never been re-routed, these increases would like have happened anyway. That said, the main destination of most subway riders is midtown. At least half the J train empties at Delancey, and most of the rest at Canal. Relatively few people continue the rest of the way to Fulton or Broad St despite it being in the heart of the financial district.

Bolwerk June 13, 2013 - 11:13 am

I dunno, it’s anecdotal perhaps, but I live in that area, and the number of ghost-faced Midwesterners I’ve noticed certainly has climbed since the M rerouting.

D in Bushwick June 13, 2013 - 11:07 am

I’ve lived in Bushwick just over a year now and the changes in that short time are quite evident. I’m also a broker for the area and have seen rents go up considerably. Landlords know what’s going on and every block has at least one 6 or 8 family building under full gut renovation.
It may still be the litter-strewn street, but once renovated, the rent triples to $2000+ for a two-bedroom. But there are still a lot of bargains out there if people can accept the ubiquitous railroad flat.
Most people who mention the M Train complain about it’s service so what’s really driving the growth is the L Train as people move further east to cheaper neighborhoods. Williamsburg is unaffordable for a lot of hipsters so they move farther down the line. And landlords make it clear they now want the “right kind” of tenants.
So goes the New York story…

Peter June 13, 2013 - 1:08 pm

After the Midtown Direct opened up on NJT, property values rose all along those stations towards Dover Plains.

Roxie June 13, 2013 - 1:17 pm

People of color start move in, white people break the fuck out for the suburbs, rent prices drop and impoverished people of color move in, causing the neighborhood to “drop in quality” as it were. 20 years later white people’s kids move back in because the rent is cheap and it’s “trendy”, greedy landlords see trust-fund-baby cash getting ready to roll in and start renovating, rents skyrocket, people of color get priced out, neighborhood “raises in quality”. And the cycle starts all over again. No, don’t worry about those homeless people over there, it’s not like it’s your fault or anything silly like that…

Spendmore Wastemore June 13, 2013 - 4:40 pm

Hm. 2 of the 3 landlords I’ve had dealing with recently are “of color” and have lotsa green colored $$$. Lots more than their tenants, who are evil oppressors paying off student and loans working 6 day weeks, all for a fraction of what the landlords made out with in cap gains + tax breaks.

Anyone sophisticated enough to write as “Roxie” does could go to law school.

SW calls BS.

Blue June 18, 2013 - 2:14 pm

Here we are again, pretending that all whites are wealthy and all people of color are poor. More than just some of those “trust fund babies” are black.

AG June 18, 2013 - 2:24 pm

yeah ppl forget that when you get away from coastal cities – there are PLENTY of poor whites in this country. Even in NY State… once you pass Dutchess county you start to see those types of pockets.

and some of the “hipsters” in Harlem and Brooklyn are transplants too..

JMB June 13, 2013 - 1:29 pm

Yes, please tell me more on how as an impoverished person not of color, I am responsible for homelessness by moving to a area I can afford.

Not all “white” people are created equally.

Alon Levy June 13, 2013 - 2:19 pm

Not you. The NIMBYs who make it illegal to build more housing because it would disturb their precious property values.

Nathanael June 17, 2013 - 2:11 pm

I can sympathize with the sort of NIMBYs who attempt to establish parkland and nature preserves. Nature is good and humans have been overly dismissive of it. I cannot sympathize with the “single family house, no high-rises” people.

Bolwerk June 17, 2013 - 7:42 pm

Nature is good, but NIMBYs cut off everyone else’s access to it. There was a time when a streetcar or interurban could take you to the countryside. No more, first of all because our interurbans were stolen, and secondly because suburbanites stole the countryside.

Henry June 20, 2013 - 12:00 am

To build density though, you don’t even need high-rises, and to some extent, mid-rises. A lot of the density in the outer boroughs is rowhouses, houses on small lots, or five-story co-ops.

AlexB June 13, 2013 - 2:29 pm

I may be diverting the comments too far off topic, but I think a great future scenario would be to finish the Second Avenue Subway Phase 3 by connecting it to the Nassau (downtown J) and Culver Lines (Brooklyn F). Most 2nd Ave trains coming from the UES or Queens (20/hour +/-) would follow the Culver Line to Coney and the rest would terminate at Broad St (current J terminus). All or almost all (20/hour +) of the Williamsburg Bridge lines (J, M & Z) would operate over the 6th Avenue local and some might terminate at Broad St during rush hour. I think it would get a lot of people to their preferred destinations much faster and make the East Side vastly more accessible via the F and its transfers at Jay St.

Walt Gekko June 13, 2013 - 2:45 pm

What is going on with the M also destroys the myth about elevated lines:

While NIMBYs would moan and groan about rebuilding say the 3rd Avenue El, what is going on in an area that simply got AMBUSHED during the 1977 blackout (but was already well on the way back before this) speaks a lot to the importance of convenient transportation. It’s one reason why I would seriously look at rebuilding the 3rd Avenue El IN ADDITION TO the complete build of the SAS, especially given how dense the upper east side already is (the densest portion of any major city in the country I believe) and with the looming problems should Bloomberg get through changes that will allow developers to build much taller high rises on the east side of Manhattan that would likely making re-building the 3rd Avenue El (as I would do it, a double-decked four track line with express tracks on the upper level and local tracks on the lower level) a near-necessity as ridership would likely be enough to warrant both expansions.

Justin Samuels June 13, 2013 - 3:29 pm

We’re along ways away from the residents of Manhattan allowing the 3rd Avenue el to be rebuilt. But if the 2nd Avenue Subway is built full length, it would be nice to rebuild the 3rd Avenue el in the Bronx, have it go under the Harlem River, and become the 2nd Avenue Subway.

The original 3rd Avenue el was one line in the Bronx, and up in Harlem it split into both the 2nd and 3rd Avenue els. So one 2nd Avenue Subway just might have the capacity of both the 2nd and 3rd Avenue els back then.

Walt Gekko June 13, 2013 - 4:00 pm

I agree the residents right now would be opposed to a new 3rd Avenue El, but it potentially could be a situation where they may not have a choice down the road, especially if Bloomberg gets his way in allowing for rebuilding much of the east side into taller and taller buildings (both office and residential). That kind of density, coupled with what is likely to come on parts of the upper east side with the new SAS may very well make it where a new 3rd Avenue El is needed in addition to the full SAS.

My plan for a new 3rd Avenue El includes a Bronx portion that would run along the old route and be serviced by trains from BOTH the SAS and 3rd Avenue El there.

This could definitely be a cause of “what’s old is new again” as building a new El would likely be cheaper at this point and can be built to be far more quiet than any existing El and also much stronger than any existing one as well.

Bolwerk June 13, 2013 - 4:43 pm

An el in Manhattan is pure masturbation – and for good reason, for once, because it would really clutter the city up and make the street ambiance much less inviting. It can be excused in Astoria, where there already is an el and the benefits of extending it far outweigh the cost of losing a few blocks of residential street sunlight.

Luckily, saner subway construction costs are perfectly technically feasible, and provide a good bang:buck ratio. (Why people think we wouldn’t be gouged on an el, I don’t know.)

Chris C June 13, 2013 - 6:30 pm

But an El would have advantages in that it wont get flooded when daughter of Sandy hits. Which she will.

Bolwerk June 14, 2013 - 12:03 pm

Nor will a properly engineered subway.

Henry June 15, 2013 - 1:22 pm

It would also have the disadvantage of getting hit by whatever debris would be flying around, whenever a Category 3 comes through. I’m not even sure if elevated stations in New York can handle the windspeeds of a hurricane, much less the tornadoes that show up every 2 years in the outer boroughs.

Bolwerk June 13, 2013 - 4:37 pm

Weren’t the east side els three tracks each? It’ll probably be tough for the SAS to match that kind of capacity, at least potential capacity.

Walt Gekko June 13, 2013 - 5:27 pm

The original El was three tracks across. My version, because it would involve the wider BMT/IND Cars would make it where two levels are necessary to have local and express service anyway, so that’s why I would have two levels of two tracks each (there would be a couple of areas where it would be four across (or three across at different points) to allow for crossings between levels in the event work has to be done and trains need to switch levels and so forth.

There would be two branches as I would do it: One (that would be known as the World Trade Center Branch would actually start in Battery Park City and stop at the WTC (on Vesey Street to allow for transfers to the A/C/2/3) and Park Row (with transfers to the 4/5/6) before heading to Chatam Square (with a transfer to the T) where it would hook up with the other branch that would run the old South Ferry route to the Bronx (and be express as well as run its old route to the Bronx, the WTC branch would be local and after 125th Street would run to 12th Avenue on 125th). The biggest transfer point would be 60th-63rd Street, which would feature transfers between the 4/5/6/N/R lines at 60th and F/Q lines at 63rd. The express would then have a similar run to the CPW line, running express 60th-63rd to 125th Street.

With what may be coming, and again especially if Bloomberg gets his way, the NIMBYs may have no choice but to allow a rebuild of the 3rd Avenue El in addition to the SAS.

Henry June 14, 2013 - 9:23 am

The el trains were also half as long.

Bolwerk June 14, 2013 - 12:03 pm

Not sure it matters, since they could run more frequently, and I think someone event recently posted something attesting to the fact that they did.

But note that I did say potential capacity.

Henry June 15, 2013 - 1:25 pm

The trains running more frequently is more of the MTA slowing trains down in the wake of all its crashes, and els were probably the least safe of them all.

If I remember correctly, CTA’s Red Line was running every 105s, which enabled them to do skip-stop service without really compromising on frequency. Obviously, that is no longer the case.

I fully expect the trunk lines to be upgraded to CBTC more aggressively in the future, especially since MTA has no appetite for further construction unless it’s being badgered by lawmakers (and the 7 to Secaucus doesn’t count)

AG June 13, 2013 - 4:49 pm

So I don’t understand the last paragraph… You currently consider the Upper East Side anywhere near affordable?? It’s the richest zip codes in the entire country.

That said – there is a generational shift. 40 years ago – for a myriad of reasons – ppl fled to the suburbs to have a nice driveway. Environmental consciousness – less street crime – and lower birth rates have made city neighborhoods attractive again. Not much left can be done – except one experiment that few have the political will to tackle. If rent laws are allowed become more “true” to the market – there is a possibility that middle income ppl would benefit. Why? Creating artificial ceilings only jacks up the rent for others as owners seek to compensate for keeping some rents artificially low. It’s not an exact science – but worth a try.

Alon Levy June 13, 2013 - 7:10 pm

The Upper East Side has the lowest rents in Manhattan south of Harlem. It is full of rich people on 5th and Park, but the rental housing on 1st and 2nd is upper middle-class, with almost no gentrification since the hipsters and the people who follow the hipsters find the area boring and avoid it.

Bolwerk June 14, 2013 - 11:53 am

It has no gentrification, basically because it never “needed” it (in our lifetimes anyway). The lower echelons of housing there are affordable to young professionals who can afford paying ~40% of their income on rent, but pretty well price out poorer people.

Given the roving packs of whitebread bros (Columbia or NYU students? tourists?) in the overpriced-yet-still-divey bars there, it sometimes seems more like Vegas, Miami, or the Sunset Strip than NYC.

AG June 14, 2013 - 7:56 pm

The Upper East Side is “old money”…and there is some on 1st and 2nd Ave. also. Not sure where you get the “cheapest rents below Harlem” either.

Bolwerk June 15, 2013 - 12:08 am

More like cheapest market rents, but his point more or less stands. I’m not even sure they are cheapest per square foot, but they might be cheapest total unit cost (many of those apartments are damn small).

Alon Levy June 15, 2013 - 2:56 am

I got the link off of Twitter, I believe from Market Urbanism’s feed. There were averages per neighborhood and the UES was the lowest.

Also, when my then-girlfriend and I looked for apartments in the summer of 2009, the parts of the UES from 2nd Avenue eastward had considerably lower rents than the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights.

Andrew June 13, 2013 - 9:41 pm

Zoning is far more of a market distortion than rent control.

Upzoning low and medium density neighborhoods near subway stations and eliminating minimum parking requirements would greatly increase the housing supply, pushing down rents.

However, owners, unlike renters, don’t want housing prices to drop, so we’re unlikely to see any serious push to increase housing supply.

AG June 14, 2013 - 8:02 pm

That is not necessarily true (about zoning)…. once prices drop down because of over-supply… builders will just stop (happens on the commercial side all the time… and in single family homes in the states with few zoning laws). The only way they still continue is if the government subsidizes it… like with “affordable housing” now.

Andrew June 14, 2013 - 8:24 pm

Don’t worry, we are nowhere near a state of oversupply of housing – the supply-demand imbalance is exactly why rents are so high.

Rents are determined by what the market will bear. If a landlord can bring in $5000 for an apartment, he isn’t going to lower that rent to $4000 if he manages to bring in an extra $1000 elsewhere. He’s going to continue to charge what the market will bear.

The best way to bring down the rent is to increase the supply. Some suggest increasing the supply of market-rent apartments by eliminating rent control, which would have somewhat of an effect. But increasing the supply by reducing onerous restrictions on building housing in the first place would have a far greater impact.

AG June 15, 2013 - 1:48 pm

There is a balance to everything…. including supply. Not everyone wants to live in a crowded neighborhood… especially one that lacks mass transit.

“he is going to charge what the market can bear”… but that’s the opposite of what goes on with rent control/stabilization. it distorts the market by keeping some parts artificially low… which squeezes the ppl in the middle because the ppl on the high end can pay whatever it takes to “make it up”.

Bolwerk June 16, 2013 - 3:08 pm

But what distorts the market even more is what Andrew keeps telling you: the low supply for high demand.

I agree regulation probably distorts the market a bit, but the compensation argument still doesn’t make sense. It ignores the (very probable) possibility that the unit is regulated by still profitable for the landlord – only less profitable.

AG June 16, 2013 - 11:23 pm

Andrew is not correct. I work with the real estate industry. Their is a very delicate balance to zoning in NYC. You can’t just allow 50 story buildings in neighborhoods that have single and two family houses. It can cause their values to collapse…for various reasons.

You keep telling me these things and I look at the books of these owners and I’m telling you what happens. This is not theory. I’m telling you what I see in dollars and cents!!!

Bolwerk June 17, 2013 - 10:04 am

The delicate zoning balance is designed to fuck over anybody who isn’t filth rich, and keep incomes high for development/rental corporations. Anywhere within inner Brooklyn and Queens, not to mention Manhattan, a 50 story building is a drop of water in a swimming pool.

And why do you need 50 story buildings when you can simply loosen zoning a little and let private developers add a floor or two? There is no need to disrupt neighborhoods like the Bloomberg waterfront initiatives. Just loosen up a little everywhere.

(I’d push to allow a minimum 10 stories anywhere within 10 blocks of a subway station, actually.)

AG June 17, 2013 - 6:53 pm

I didn’t say Manhattan… I said areas of single family homes.
And 50 story buildings are not common anywhere in Brooklyn or Queens so it would not be a “drop in a swimming pool”.

As to loosening… that’s been going on all over the place in the past decade. It’s been allowed on the avenues but restricted on most side streets. I can tell you it’s not just rich ppl who don’t like their neighborhoods changing too much… Not sure where you live – but ask your neighbors what they would think of even a 30 story tower being built in the middle of your block… you’d be surprised at the responses.

Bolwerk June 17, 2013 - 7:50 pm

The swimming pool is ~8.3 million people. A 50 building anywhere with subway access is literally unnoticeable outside its immediate neighbors. But, that’s neither here nor there. I think the practical solution is saner zoning, not no zoning – again, 10 stories near any subway station is very reasonable. 50 stories anywhere anyone wants with no regard for what the people already there want probably isn’t.

I suspect my neighbors by and large would prefer better transit and amenities, and would be indifferent to adding a story or two to the local height restriction. But the ones who show up to complain at community board meetings largely want whatever any NIMBY narcissist might want, which is largely about parking and keeping newcomers out.

The outcome is often high buildings with lots of parking only residents of the building can use without paying a shit-ton. Basically, these people are morons.

Nathanael June 17, 2013 - 2:15 pm

You don’t need to put 50 story buildings next to 1 story buildings. (Though I’ve seen that done, in Syracuse, NY, and it seemed OK.)

However, allowing rowhouses and 4-story condos in “single family / duplex” neighborhoods seems to generally increase the land values, these days.

And that’s all that’s needed for “increased density”; you don’t need the 50-story buildings. The high density of New York started out with huge, huge amounts of rowhouse construction.

AG June 17, 2013 - 7:07 pm

I’m not saying to do it… but when persons make blanket statements of “get rid of zoning”… they invite that kind of stuff.

Well in the outer boroughs – most of what I see is row-house style construction. Very very few permits are for single family homes.

NYC as a whole is the most dense it’s ever been – so this is un-chartered territory. It will be hard for Manhattan to reach it’s old population simply because you have less ppl in families than existed back in the 20’s and 30’s.

Bolwerk June 17, 2013 - 8:24 pm

I don’t see who mentioned getting rid of zoning. Andrew brought zoning regs up, and he mentioned upzoning, not eliminating zoning. Though, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be eliminated in some places.

Anyway, it’s not that uncharted. Paris is perhaps more dense than Manhattan. I would guess the core of Tokyo and many developed and developing cities are too. And there are less dense parts of NYC that can become more dense, and we have plenty of experience with that ourselves.

Bolwerk June 14, 2013 - 12:02 pm

Creating artificial ceilings only jacks up the rent for others as owners seek to compensate for keeping some rents artificially low.

Is there any research demonstrating this is happening at all? People may need housing, so I can see an argument that housing is kind of inelastic demand-wise, but what people don’t need is to live in Manhattan. They can and do go elsewhere if they want.

That makes me suspect it’s pretty much what Andrew is implying: rents are high because that’s what landlords can get away with. They’d be higher if they could get away with more, and lower if they had to compete with each other.

And Andrew is probably right, not just about rent, but also because a big glut in housing would monkey with the property valuations of the people who really control this city.

Andrew June 14, 2013 - 6:20 pm

By “owners” I was referring not so much to landlords but rather to homeowners. If you own a home, you don’t want property values to drop, because then your home will be worth less. So homeowners have no interest in correcting the supply-demand imbalance by significantly increasing the supply.

Bolwerk June 14, 2013 - 11:20 pm

Eh, I doubt it would affect homeowners much, at least not single-family house owners. Maybe it would affect condo and co-op owners, but the major real estate lobby is more the landlords/developers who already hold the key to the supply/demand equilibrium and make their money on renting out to commercial and residential space. 😐

Who knows though? Maybe I’m wrong.

AG June 15, 2013 - 1:53 pm

a lot of single family homeowners “rent” illegal apartments to pay their rent. the city is now going after them. it happens in every single family enclave in the city… and that’s why the census numbers for NYC are always under-counted more than other places.
Here is just one example in the East Bronx (but it probably is most notorious in Queens):


AG June 14, 2013 - 7:58 pm

“research”??? all you have to do is know owners and property managers… I’ve had them as clients – so I know how they think… and how they HAVE TO operate to compensate.

Bolwerk June 15, 2013 - 12:04 am

Except that doesn’t really make sense. In a hyper-competitive market like NYC real estate, why wouldn’t they charge whatever price they can get away with for the scarce asset they own?

I could maybe see the case that proportionately more people are competing for a smaller pie, which may screw up the market price equilibrium for those who don’t get a regulated unit. But the idea that landlords could compensate by charging people without regulated units more would just seem to fly in the face of any kind of orthodox economic theory, much less capitalist idealism – it can only work if they can get away with the extra charges, and they could only get away with it there is demand, and if there is demand why not do it anyway?

Plus the argument carries other baggage, like the assumption that a regulated price is necessarily a non-profitable price, which is also probably typically not true.

AG June 15, 2013 - 2:02 pm

I’m talking about middle income ppl. NYC is awash with ppl who have money… and many poor who stay put. Middle of the road ppl can’t afford to stay often times.

Again – I’ve had clients who are involved in the properties. It’s not just “greedy landlords”… even the subsidized co-ops that are only for certain incomes have problems because they don’t have the money to make capital improvements (can’t get normal loans because the cash flow doesn’t support it). Even some of these ppl wish they could attract ppl with higher incomes. Well a landlord has no choice – he has to try to find ppl with money to offset the person who has lived there for 40 years and is only paying $400. It’s a diff scenario – but similar principle. That is the main reason middle income ppl are being priced out of Manhattan and seemingly “desirable” parts of town.

Andrew June 15, 2013 - 11:11 pm

Landlords are in business to make money. Just like any other business, their goal is to make as much money as they can, generally by charging as much as possible without leading to vacancies. It’s not greed; it’s the fundamental nature of the beast.

Landlords don’t lower rents out of altruism. They only lower rents if they’re concerned that they won’t be able to fill their units otherwise. If a rent controlled tenant moves out or dies, the landlord isn’t going to lower the rent on the pricey apartment down the hall to compensate – he’s going to continue to charge what the market will bear.

In a free market situation, what determines prices is supply and demand.

AG June 16, 2013 - 9:35 am

I don’t understand your point… of course they won’t lower it. Who said that? I said how the existing stock is affecting middle income ppl because of price distortion.

Conversely, just changing zoning laws won’t necessarily benefit prices for the same reason. Developers are there to make money – unless they get subsidy – they won’t build unless they think they can make money. If building in NYC is “helter skelter” it will NOT be more desirable to the ppl who will pay the most. There is a balance to everything.

In any event – as I originally said – I think there should be a trial to see what will happen to prices.

Bolwerk June 16, 2013 - 2:52 pm

But what is causing price distortion? And what kind of price distortion? For all we know, regulation is keeping rents down.

The thing about zoning laws is it opens up the door for new developers to compete with existing ones – and offer more space at a more realistic price. I don’t see how deregulating is going to change average prices very much, but rezoning at least maybe really can.

(But who wouldn’t want more supply? Why, existing landlords!)

AG June 16, 2013 - 11:17 pm

I explained what causes the distortion… you literally have ppl paying $400 per month which if wasn’t in rent control would be several times that… That’s why you have crazy things happen like the girl in Brooklyn a few months ago that was still living with her dead aunt in the apartment.

As to zoning laws… this is not a wide open city like Houston… it’s crowded and there are a finite amount of places to build. Quality of life is the biggest issue… the fact is that if there were 10 million ppl in NYC – what would keep costs down is if the quality of life dropped. If it maintains the quality of life that exists… the prices won’t come down because the demand would continue to be there.

Also – if you note – I said there was no guarantee as to what would happen with the rental market if the controls were lifted somewhat. My GUESS is that it would be like the housing market… it would adjust to some sort of equilibrium… bu that doesn’t happen with price controls.

Bolwerk June 17, 2013 - 10:00 am

Unless you’re holding something back, your explanation just isn’t holding up to scrutiny, relying on support from anecdotes (a girl living with her dead aunt is one of those things rare and odd enough to make the news).

“Quality of life” is usually a smokescreen for not wanting to share public space with people of different races and classes. Maybe qualitative matters affect price, but the driving force in price in NYC real estate is still high demand and low supply. Maintaining a building in NYC isn’t much more expensive than maintaining one in any other populated place where rents can be lower.

There are certainly neighborhoods in NYC that have space to spare; maybe crowding parts of Manhattan would be bad, but adding a few stories to new construction in Williamsburg would probably be completely harmless.

bu that doesn’t happen with price controls

You’re really overplaying the effect of price controls. The controlled price still needs to be out of line with both demand price and maintenance costs for price controls to begin having a negative effect, and I’m still not seeing overwhelming evidence of the former and virtually none of the latter.

AG June 17, 2013 - 6:48 pm

That example was extreme – but there are NUMEROUS cases of ppl doing all times of trickery to keep those apartments “in the family”.

Quality of life is a “smokescreen”??? HUH? it’s simple… when quality of life dropped – the city lost 800k ppl in the 60’s and 70’s… As it started to improve again – the city started bursting at the seems again. It’s that simple. Low quality of life equals low demand. That goes for every single race and ethnicity. When quality of life drops – those who can leave most certainly do.

The only market that can compare in the U.S. for expense is San Francisco. If you really serious think it’s so easy in comparison then I don’t think you understand the real estate industry. NYC real estate is “notorious” for a reason. You get the biggest returns… but it’s the most difficult.

How do you know I’m overplaying if you don’t see evidence. That is contradictory. If you go back I said it should be TRIED.

Nathanael June 17, 2013 - 2:20 pm

Rent control is well documented to make a mess of the market.

(Rent “stabilization” — which is a variant of the ancient “tenured renter” concept, where once a renter has been living in one place for a while, their rent can only be raised at a certain limited rate — seems to work tolerably well. But the 1940s rent control, which is still in place in New York City, makes a real mess.)

However, the rent control doesn’t apply to new construction. So, uh, releasing more opportunity for new construction would alleviate the rent control distortion.

There’s a lot to be said for encouraging the sort of neighborhoods which make up most of “old New York” — 4-10 story narrow buildings with shared walls — rather than skyscraper construction. There is very little to be said in favor of forcing single-family fully-detached houses forever.

AG June 17, 2013 - 7:09 pm

You are correct about new construction… except that low/moderate ones usually require subsidy…. but that’s another issue.

Bolwerk June 16, 2013 - 3:04 pm

Well, what about middle income people? In NYC, except perhaps Manhattan and a few other prime neighborhoods, they can probably have lower housing+transport costs than people outside the city. That NYC is really expensive to live in is another case of What Everybody Knows, but if you look past Manhattan it’s not even very credible in many cases.

Can we even establish definitively that the person who has been there for 40 years paying $400 – an unusual scenario – is harming the landlord’s ability to maintain the building. Such a person would have an impact on the income valuation of the building, but that’s a separate problem.

AG June 16, 2013 - 11:20 pm

I’m not guessing… again I have building managers as clients. Go to the Bronx and ask the building owners who have to struggle to buy oil in the winter because the rent rolls don’t support the costs of maintaining the building. Again – I’m NOT guessing… this is what I’ve had to deal with… and these are NOT slumlords… these are actually ppl who want to maintain the property.

Bolwerk June 17, 2013 - 9:46 am

You aren’t guessing, but you are depending on anecdotes. Put a number on it: how much does that happen? <1% of the time? 10%? 50%? And, when it does happen, how often are your clients Dunning and Krueger mismanaging their assets?

AG June 17, 2013 - 6:33 pm

It all depends on the area… obviously in “hot” neighborhoods it is less of a problem (though again – the middle income get pushed out).

It’s not generally about mismanaging assets… again – in many cases the rent rolls either can’t support the property… or if they can – they don’t allow for any improvements (which makes life miserable for tenants).

Nathanael June 17, 2013 - 2:24 pm

“Have to struggle to buy oil in the winter”?

Assuming that the landlord is paying utilities, the landlord should get a loan to (a) insulate and (b) convert to something other than oil heating. It’ll pay for itself.

I doubt that any building with oil heating, which is now the most expensive type of heating currently on the market, can break even at any rent level.

The building managers you’re talking to are starting out behind all their competition; they have to lower their rent to the level which matches that of building managers with efficient heating systems.

AG June 17, 2013 - 6:36 pm

Nathanael – getting a loan to convert is NOT as easy as it sounds. Not in the least. It’s a no-brainer… but its NOT that easy.

Even in new construction – the only way it (using newer sources of energy) happens is when there is subsidy from the government.

ajedrez June 14, 2013 - 5:32 pm

As for the last paragraph, that’ll likely also cause increased rents and property values in the southern part of East Harlem.

Ian MacAllen June 16, 2013 - 6:08 pm

It kind of makes you wonder why we’re so worried about the Second Avenue subway line, a train that, while connecting important pieces of Manhattan, mostly services places that are already very expensive, very densely developed and opposed to new development. Perhaps a better focus would be building new services through areas like Bed-Stuy or eastern Queens.

David Brown June 16, 2013 - 7:47 pm

Good luck with Queens, they did not even want the “R” Train extended to 179th Street, or a Train to LaGuardia Airport, cleaning up junkyards at Willets Point, and are opposing activating an old LIRR Branch so add additional commuting options. I will concede the point that most people in Manhattan, are to the left of me, but except for the Andrew Berman type fringe characters who live in some fantasy land of their own, they know the SAS is needed for the City to grow, and for that reason it will get done.

Henry June 17, 2013 - 12:30 am

Okay, let me clear up a few things here:

People opposed the R to 179th because it deprived local stations of QBL express service, whereas they had it before. Not to mention, the train doesn’t particularly fill up between Forest Hills and 179th in the morning, so there isn’t a big need for the service. It definitely would not have helped with growth, since anyone who wants Broadway service can already make that trip with a cross-platform transfer at one of the QBL express stations.

Willets Point makes no sense, because they want to “extend Flushing” and its retail vibrancy, but it’s separated by a polluted body of water and a highway. No one is going to want to walk out into a shopping center in the middle of nowhere. They’ve already tried with a project on College Point Boulevard, but the SkyView shopping mall has more than half of its smaller storefronts vacant while Flushing continues to have record low vacancy rates. As someone who is close to some of the property developers in Flushing, they would much prefer developing infill in the immediate vicinity of Roosevelt Av and Main St (of which there is quite a lot of), rather than sink their money into an expensive, inaccessible location.

The train to LaGuardia likely would’ve required a significant amount of eminent domain due to the curve onto Ditmars Blvd and the lack of an elevated ROW available to the airport itself (the GCP is not suitable due to a runway landing path).

The Rockaway Branch makes no sense for the same reason Queensway didn’t make sense – it’s an out-of-the-way ROW surrounded by parks. Not to mention, the Rockaways is one of the lowest-ridership areas served by the subways, and is incredibly low density. It doesn’t make financial sense to invest there when there are more pressing priorities, namely, an overfilled QBL and no subways in Eastern and Southeastern Queens.

Queens wants projects that will actually help the borough and its commuters, not some half-baked idea by City Council or the Mayor.

Nathanael June 17, 2013 - 2:26 pm

The “Rockaway Branch” makes sense; it is a ROW with a lot of housing on either side, apart from the areas with the parks.

Actually going to the Rockaways does not make sense, but that’s not the purpose of reactivating the “Rockaway branch”.

Henry June 17, 2013 - 5:51 pm

At least 20% of the ROW borders parkland. In addition, the northern 40% of the route is blocked from the west by big box stores, parking lots, and what appears to be a private housing development. As such, only major arterials cut across the ROW, but the amount of connecting passengers from bus services may remain limited due to the little ridership the buses going through the neighborhood already have, even if they connect to subway lines. The southern 40% of the route from Forest Park to the A train holds the most promise, but even this is limited, due to the fact that it has less than optimal transfer opportunities with the A and the J/Z.

More importantly, existing ridership patterns aren’t so great either. Ridership at surrounding stations on the J/Z and the A aren’t particularly high, and the only bus route that demands a high amount of frequency six days a week, the Q53, gets a measly 970 riders/mile every day. The money would probably be better spent on either capital improvements to the bus system (bus lanes, traffic signal priority), or shoring up the Jamaica El and adding a third track (currently impossible due to the poor engineering of the early 1900s)

AG June 17, 2013 - 6:38 pm

so what are your suggestions of what is feasible in Queens???

David Brown June 17, 2013 - 11:46 pm

Henry will tolerate a new LIRR Sunnyside Station… oops I forgot that is Sunnyside and along with Rego Park, and the Long Island City area are the exceptions to the anti-development Borough of Queens. Being from Queens, I can tell you just how anti-development it is (particularly when it comes to Southern Queens, and cleaning up Willets Point, Flushing Airport, and the dead water and I mean smelling like Bayonne dead water of Flushing Meadow Park). Finally, the very reason that Henry and the Queens NIMBY’s do not want the Rockaway Branch reactivated, is they dread Woodhaven Blvd (and Cross Bay Blvd) being turned into Queens Blvd. Of course, the NIMBY’s have it set up that you have to options: Queens Center or Brooklyn (unless you want to suffer the drive to BJ’s on Metropolitan). It has been that way since I was a kid, and BJ’s was K-Mart.

AG June 18, 2013 - 8:55 am

Ok… I can’t say I know the entirety of Queens well enough to comment… One area I do know is Willets Point though (along with Astoria, LIC, and Jamaica). I do feel sorry for the honest businesses that have to move… and hope their compensation means they can relocate comfortably without losing business… but ppl should stop pretending they don’t know about all the under-handed dealings that went on over the years. Plenty of “out of view” criminality went on. Aside from that though – the area really is toxic and needs to be cleaned up.

As to the other stuff – I’ll take your word. Still – I wouldn’t be surprised if Queens population eventually overtakes Brooklyn.

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