Transportation Drives Development

G trainAs real estate investors and developers, one question we should always be circulating is, “How can we create more desirable inventory?”

While the city took right action in rezoning Greenpoint to accommodate the residential needs of a growing community, it hasn’t taken off with the speed with which it could. The big issue here is transportation, and it’s solvable. Development along the waterfront holds great promise, and the single-greatest driver of growth for the neighborhood lies in better transportation. Look at the extension of the 7 Train to Hudson yards, or how the re-routing of the M train to Manhattan dramatically increased the growth and investment in neighborhoods served by M stations in Brooklyn and Queens.

We’d see similar growth in Greenpoint if the G train ran more reliably. For starters—and this is something the MTA could do cheaply—why not allow free above-ground transfers between the G train’s Broadway stop with the J and M trains at Hewes and Lorimer, which shuttle commuters to Manhattan. Or the MTA could add more rolling stock to the inadequate four-car line. But even more importantly, adding two additional stops on the G that runs under Manhattan Avenue—one on the corner of Manhattan and Green Street, the other a few blocks down on the corner of Box Street—if completed in stages, would improve quality of life, drive growth to the neighborhood, and give tremendous confidence to investors and lenders to invest in Greenpoint.

Greenpoint already enjoys a solid infrastructure with retail, fine housing stock, banks, supermarkets and dry cleaners as well as gentrified hotspots like Five Leaves (behind an investment from actor Heath Ledger), Nights and Weekends, Calexico and the 6000 square-foot beer hall Spritzenhaus—as well as the short-lived Rotgut, a 180-square-foot illegal speakeasy-cum public art project at the corner of Greenpoint and Franklin created by tattoo and installation artist Duke Riley, where drinks were priced at a nickel, which merited a column in the New York Times City Room blog.

While hip is important, a better driver of growth is quality education over speakeasies, so I’m pleased that there are fine alternatives to private school with P.S. 110 and P.S. 34 offering great educational options. The ferry directly to Manhattan is a great option for those who work on the East Side of Midtown. When it comes to a price comparison, owners are paying around $150 per square foot here compared to $250 per square foot in neighboring Williamsburg. Better transportation in this area will mean a 20-25% price increase for landlords. Mayor Bloomberg, you have done an incredible job driving investment to NYC, perhaps one last push this year to finish what you started in North Brooklyn?