Repairs to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority's L subway line could dramatically impair transport between Brooklyn and Manhattan for upward of three years. While an inconvenience for commuters, the construction could prove costly to Brooklyn's booming housing market.
The Canarsie Tube, a tunnel under the East River that was damaged by more than 7 million gallons of salt water during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, is slated for repairs. It is a major transportation artery for commuters between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
"The Canarsie Tube presents serious challenges due to the lack of redundancy. That is why we are weighing several options in order to mitigate the impact to the 225,000 customers who travel through the Canarsie Tube daily," Kevin Ortiz, MTA and NYC Transit spokesman, told CNBC. "We'll look at these options with various schedules for work and will develop a service plan accordingly."
It is unclear if the MTA will shut down service completely or allow for limited service by keeping one of the two tunnels in the tube open while repairing the other.
What is clear is the impact this construction will have on Brooklyn's booming housing market.
"Williamsburg is one of the most expensive rental markets in New York with prices shooting sky high over the past two years," Joey DeBenedetto, a real estate broker at Century 21 Metropolitan, told CNBC. "Part of the reason it has been so popular is because of its convenience in and out of the city. And let's be honest, in New York City convenience is everything. Take away commuting convenience and the desirability to live or work there goes down exponentially."
The high prices seen in Williamsburg often mimic — and even exceed — current prices in Manhattan, according to DeBenedetto.
He predicts that property values and rental prices will plummet and that people may be less inclined to re-sign their leases. In addition, those who decide to sell won't be able to get the same inflated price that their properties were purchased for.
This could be a good time to make a real estate investment, says DeBenedetto. If prices dive, investors will have a small window to swoop in and purchase properties.
"New Yorkers know the value of their real estate. They typically wait out economic dips in price before they undersell valuable real estate," he said. "When Brooklyn gets a new and improved L train, property owners will get their value back. The question is, who can wait?"