This weekend, the real-estate agent Christian George Emanuel was showing a one-bedroom in a six-unit rental building at 148 Norman Avenue in Greenpoint, four blocks from the Nassau Avenue G train. Renters asked him questions about storage, air-conditioning, and the age of the construction (brand-new!). But nobody looking at a $3,895 unit asked how they would be expected to get there. They probably should have: For at least 45 days this summer, the only subway serving the neighborhood will shut down.
More specifically: From June 28 through August 12, G stations in Greenpoint will close, and, as work moves down the line through September 2, southbound trains won’t go farther than Bedford-Nostrand. And that’s if the MTA makes its deadlines. Still: A certain subset of people moving into the neighborhood — where the median asking rent is now $4,308 — seem basically unconcerned, either because they can afford to be unconcerned or because getting an apartment here has become so competitive that even a shutdown can’t give them leverage.
On India Street, the news of the train shutdown hit last month just as Geraldine Greenberg, an agent with Sotheby’s International, was showing a $4,000 one-bedroom in a modern condo with a shared roof garden. She thought it would be prudent to break the news to a renter who was ready to sign a lease and found he was “completely unbothered,” she said. He works for a successful tech start-up and can afford Ubers; plus, he was already going to split his time between Brooklyn and San Francisco. “I just gave the guy his keys on Friday.” Lior Barak, a Compass agent who specializes in north Brooklyn, got more than 30 inquiries last week within 24 hours of advertising a three-bedroom just off the Greenpoint Avenue stop for $6,950 a month. Many applicants didn’t even ask about the shutdown, Barak says. There is just too much demand for the neighborhood, too little inventory, and renters have to take what they can get, said Ewa Mydlarz, a Douglas Elliman agent who has been living in Greenpoint for 27 years. “Even if the unit is below standard, there always are takers,” she said.
MTA chief Janno Lieber says they booked the repairs for “the height of vacation season,” but vacation in other neighborhoods is actually busy season in Greenpoint, the only neighborhood served solely by the G. About 200,000 people used the Greenpoint Avenue station last July, four times more than in January. The real effect of the train desert, then, will fall on businesses that serve out-of-towners and renters who are unable to work from home, pay for two Ubers a day, or depend on the notoriously unreliable East River ferry. Plus: “People with children — they go to the beach, they go to Coney Island. And older people — it’s going to be very hard for them,” said Mydlarz.
And in case you were wondering, no one will be getting deals on their rentals. One renter did ask Corcoran agent Molly Franklin if the train would drive down prices. She told them what she thought: “I’m not trying to be mean,” she said, “but it’s a delusion. Because the people who love New York love New York, but right now New York is an abusive lover.”