Saturday, December 31, 2016
There goes the neighborhood
The Upper East Side has been an anomaly in New York City ever since the 2nd & 3rd Ave Els were torn down in the 40's, a veritable transit desert away from New York's subway arteries. The will end on Sunday with the opening of the 2nd Ave extension of the Q line.
The new Second Avenue subway will provide badly needed relief to one of New York’s most congested transit corridors and is expected to be a boon to the local economy, making restaurants and stores suddenly easier to reach. But even as the city celebrates a line many doubted would ever open, its arrival has prompted fears that rising rents could force out longtime residents and shops — the kind of displacement that has swept through many other parts of an increasingly affluent New York and deepened its inequality.It was going to happen sooner or later, the question is how bad will it be?
People living near three new stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th Streets could face rent increases as high as $462 per month, according to a report by StreetEasy, a real estate website. Sleek high-rises are already popping up above the walk-up apartment buildings that have served as first homes for many New Yorkers.
One of those is Dina Zingaro, who gravitated to the neighborhood when she moved from New Jersey. She and a roommate pay $2,400 a month for a two-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor of a walk-up building.
While the new line will shorten her trip to work, she worries that it could also bring a major rent increase and ultimately push her out of Manhattan.
Once a German enclave where elevated trains ran above Second and Third Avenues, the Yorkville neighborhood on the Upper East Side is now home to millennials looking for a deal, families drawn by good schools and older people with limited budgets. Rowdy bars with beer pong games exist alongside hordes of strollers. On its eastern border sits the verdant but out-of-the way Carl Schurz Park and Gracie Mansion, the mayoral estate, whose current resident, Bill de Blasio, prefers to use chauffeured cars over the far-flung subway.
The elevated lines were razed in the 1940s and 1950s, to the delight of many residents who viewed them as noisy eyesores and expected a new subway line to open soon. Instead, the area became a rapid-transit desert, one of the few neighborhoods in Manhattan that the subway did not reach.
But this has also made the neighborhood relatively affordable by Manhattan standards. Yorkville’s median rent is about $2,700 per month, lower than Manhattan’s rate of about $3,300, according to StreetEasy, and there are clusters of rent-stabilized and rent-controlled apartments.
A real estate wave seemed forever around the corner as plans for the subway line were delayed again and again. Until now, residents have been forced to trek blocks to the nearest packed subway stops to board No.4, 5 and 6 trains on Lexington Avenue, the nation’s most-crowded subway line.
The first phase of the new line, which cost about $4.4 billion, is opening at a critical moment, with subway ridership reaching its highest level since 1948. The flood of riders has led to uncomfortable crowding and increasing train delays, while people who choose to drive or take the bus face intensifying gridlock.
Since the subway first opened in Manhattan in 1904 and expanded farther into the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, it has paved the way for development, and it propelled the city’s soaring population in the first half of the 20th century. But in recent decades, the system has largely remained the same size, even as the city’s population of 8.5 million is the highest ever and continues to climb.
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