New York City NYC

Second Avenue Subway Opens at Long Last

Parties erupted around New York City on New Year’s Eve, and crowds gathered in Times Square for the world famous ball drop.  Yet, the city’s most exclusive party took place deep underground, at the inaugural ride of the Second Avenue Subway.  Five-hundred lucky New Yorkers, including Mayor DeBlasio and Governor Cuomo, spent the waning hours of 2016 in cocktail attire, zooming back and forth between the three completed stops at 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street.  Between rides, guests admired the spacious, gleaming stations and the bold modern artwork they displayed.  “There is nothing more New York than the subway, and I can’t think of a better place to celebrate this great New York moment,” Governor Cuomo said.

It has, of course, been a long time coming.  The Second Avenue subway was first officially proposed the same year that Teddy Roosevelt died and women won the right to vote: that is to say 1919.  By 1957, The New York Times prophesized dejectedly, “It is highly improbable that the Second Avenue subway will ever materialize.”

But materialize it did, though only in part and six decades (and $4.4 billion) later.  Riding into the New Year on the “Line that Time Forgot” was the realization of a dream deferred….and deferred…and deferred again. And so when the line officially opened Sunday morning, New Yorkers did the unthinkable: they waited in line to spend a work holiday commuting.

But the big question for us at Engel Völkers NYC is of course, “How will this momentous moment affect real estate prices?” In a city where proximity to the subway is often the top consideration for renters and purchasers, the answer is clearly, “a lot”.  Prices are predicted to rise dramatically in Yorkville, which for many years has been one of the more affordable neighborhoods in Manhattan.  A report by StreetEasy claims that renters living near the open stations could experience a monthly increase as high as $462/month. NYC Engel Völkers Private Office Advisor Leslie Hirsch weighed in on the wider affects: “This will have a positive impact on the Upper East Side real estate market.  Properties East of Third Avenue have historically suffered due to a lack of nearby public transportation, and the subway will help to solve that problem. Businesses along Second Avenue that were covered by scaffolding will see an increase in foot traffic which will bring a new vibrancy to the neighborhood.”