The L Train Shutdown
All this week, StreetEasy is covering the L train shutdown planned for April 2019, reporting on its impact on the housing market and how those affected plan to respond. Our coverage is running now to help readers make housing decisions well in advance of the shutdown. See all our L train shutdown coverage.
Fueled in part by its easy access to Manhattan, Williamsburg has become the capital of a certain kind of New York cool. In April 2019, though, its umbilical cord to Manhattan is going away. If the plan to shut down L train service between Brooklyn and Manhattan truly becomes the L-pocalypse, as some fear, where else should cool kids (who need to commute) go? What’s the most Williamsburg-ish neighborhood that isn’t Williamsburg?
We’ve answered this question previously with data, looking at neighborhoods that share similar demographics, commute times, and rents near Williamsburg’s median, currently $2,979. Numbers aside, there is something ineffable that pulls people to Williamsburg, and here we attempt to hone in on it. If the L shutdown has you looking elsewhere, check out these three alternative neighborhoods, each of which retains a key aspect of Williamsburg’s inimitable character.
For Underground Music and Nightlife: Bushwick
Forgive us for being obvious, but if you came to Williamsburg for live music and nightlife — especially of the underground sort — your best bet is probably to just reorient yourself around the JMZ line and hoof it out to Bushwick. Sure, the neighborhood is less convenient and arguably less scenic, but if you miss the DIY spirit that animated venues like Shea Stadium, 285 Kent, and Death By Audio, you’ll find it at the Silent Barn, Palisades, and Market Hotel — all of which are conveniently situated near the Myrtle Avenue J, M, and Z stop. Bushwick may lack some of the aboveground venues of Williamsburg (like Music Hall and Brooklyn Steel), but that could change; and anyway, you’ve got a bike, don’t you? Meanwhile, the restaurants, bars, and clubs in Bushwick more closely resemble peak-DIY Williamsburg than anything elsewhere in New York.
A further bonus of Bushwick: You’ll probably save some cash. Median asking rent in the neighborhood is $2,500, significantly lower than Williamsburg’s $2,979. Consider checking out some Bushwick housing lotteries, and if you’ve sold some big paintings or pocketed any cash from your last tour, now might also be a good time to buy.
Other options: Lower East Side, East Village, Ridgewood.
For Absorbing Urban Community: Astoria
People are always saying Queens is the new Brooklyn, Astoria is the new Williamsburg, etc. — and they might be right. If what you love about Williamsburg is never having to leave the neighborhood when the weekend rolls around, Astoria could be for you. With excellent local coffee shops, tons of daytime activities (parks, beer halls, galleries), and an endlessly diverse restaurant scene, Astoria has a lot of the characteristics Williamsburg locals love. It does lack throbbing nightlife — though there’s no shortage of bars — and it doesn’t exude the sense of trying really hard to be cool, which might be an asset. Market rents are low compared to Williamsburg, too: $2,200 is the latest recorded median in Astoria. Other pluses: You won’t have to give up living near the waterfront; commutes into Midtown are easy on the E M, R and W trains; and the kitschy and/or cool-kid watering holes have already arrived.
Other options: Hamilton Heights, Clinton Hill, Yorkville.
For Convenience and High-Rise Luxury: Downtown Brooklyn
The last five years have seen waterfront Williamsburg transition from warehouses and DIY venues to luxury high-rises and world-class culinary offerings. If that’s your scene, the trick is going to be finding another neighborhood with similar offerings at a price close to Williamsburg’s $2,979 median rent. (Chelsea, for example, has a median of $3,900.) So may we suggest Downtown Brooklyn? Median asking rent is slightly higher, at $3,150, and yes, raucous nightlife options are few — but the neighborhood has a great deal going for it. It’s terrifically convenient, with the bevy of train lines passing through. Its changing character means there are many luxurious new developments (which often have affordable lottery apartments available). The Brooklyn Academy of Music and other cultural centers offer extensive attractions. Downtown Brooklyn itself is home to some excellent higher-end restaurants, and it’s located close to the broader selection in Cobble Hill and Fort Greene — and even those in Lower Manhattan. Yes, Downtown Brooklyn may not be as fun as Williamsburg is now, but it may soon be much more convenient.
Other options: Long Island City, Lower East Side, Hell’s Kitchen
>> See our data-driven analysis of the best alternative neighborhoods to Williamsburg, or see all of StreetEasy’s L train shutdown coverage.
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