Off the rails: Williamsburgers worry streetcar will displace locals

Oh, Jay there: This publicity image envisages a streetcar on Jay street Downtown.
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The city’s planned Sunset Park-to-Queens streetcar could be a one-way ticket out of Williamsburg for low-income residents, locals said at a public forum about the trolley on Wednesday night.

The system is expected to raise property values along the route — that’s how the city says it will pay for the $2.5 billion tram — and one housing activist wondered if the two dozen locals who gathered at the First Spanish Presbyterian Church will even be able to afford to live there when the streetcar opens in 2024.

“If property values go up, it displaces a lot of residents because landlords want to move tenants out to capitalize on the economic growth of the community,” said Ausar Burke of Churches United for Fair Housing. “We feel that’s not fair to the people already living there, it moves a lot of people out of the community.”

The city plans to use the expected increase in property taxes to foot most of the bill for the streetcar — a plan first pitched by the very developers who have properties along the line and stand to benefit the most from it.

Critics argue that it is more of an amenity for their buildings than a mass transit system designed to get Brooklynites around — especially when it will run along the waterfront, where the city about to launch a new ferry service, while farther-flung parts of the borough remain true transit desserts.

But one participant said he saw it differently — the streetcar is a chance to connect commercial and manufacturing hubs in Sunset Park, Red Hook, and Fort Greene, he argued.

“One criticism is that it won’t support the whole outer borough — that it’s only supporting the rich and sexy waterfront, there’s truth to that, but I look at it from a manufacturing background,” said Dan Chertok, a Brooklyn Law School grad who worked as an intern for the Navy Yard. “The Navy Yard, Sunset Park are huge manufacturing hubs and if you have the opportunity to connect to them, it’s better for the city, it means more jobs, and hopefully this thing grows and there’s trolleys throughout Brooklyn.”

Attendees broke off into working groups to identify key destinations and streets they’d like to see the pseudo-trains pass. Most said it had to hit Brooklyn Bridge Park, Ikea in Red Hook, and Downtown. And as at previous forums, most agreed the so-called Connector must live up to its name by linking up with existing subway, bus, and ferry stops.

One group of senior residents suggested the streetcar extend into the Bronx and Queens, so they can visit shopping centers where prices were lower than in their neighborhood.

The street-level transit system could be a huge score for older Brooklynites, some of whom struggle to get up and down the stairs at subway stations, according to one Williamsburg resident who worked in their group.

“At least there they can just hop on and go where they have to go, it would be very useful for them,” said Adrienne Vega, though she wondered if there would be any old people left in the neighborhood to use it.

The city will announce its official route in 2018 after more workshops in neighborhoods where the tram will traverse.

Reach reporter Dennis Lynch at (718) 260–2508 or e-mail him at
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Wanda from Park Slope says:
Public transportation is for everyone. If anything, it will help lower income people more than anyone.
Also, once a tram line is in place in one area and is a success, it can lead to more lines to other places. The subway expanded this way when it was built. Initially it only covered central and wealthy areas, then it expanded over the entire city.
It's fairly arrogant to insist on preventing something that will make quality of life better for so many people based on a guess that it may make prices go up. Especially in neighborhoods where prices are high and will rise with or without this. Installing this will just be a benefit to the city, and finally connct Brooklyn and Queens.
June 3, 2016, 3:29 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
I don't even like this streetcar proposal, but the idea that the city shouldn't make improvements because it will make areas better and therefore more expensive is perverse.

If the strategy for affordability is to not improve, why not go the full way: cuts! Don't stop with closing the L for 18 months--shut it forever. Promise that all crimes committed in Williamsburg will not be investigated or prosecuted. That will make Williamsburg very affordable.
June 3, 2016, 9 am
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Hello, John Wasserman here. I, John Wasserman, just wanted to state that I, John Wasserman, am all for this. This will help me, John Wasserman, get to my psychiatrist in Queen much easier. Pardon my interruption. John Wasserman
June 3, 2016, 9:22 am
kevin D from Williamsburg says:
Everything about the city and its improvements have the effect of raising rents - every single thing.

The revival of the industrial area of Sunset Park, Industry City? And its impending ferry stop? The lower-income population there can say goodbye to living there, soon enough. Their safe haven will soon become The Newly Discovered Country.

All the wonderful watterfront parks, the outdoor concert venues, the mega development projects... they all crush the lower-middle and lower-income people. Its what happens.

Its gonna take 3 to 7 years before we see it, but I imagine the streetcar would bring some charm to the city.
June 3, 2016, 10:29 am
Paul Benson from Williamburg says:
Transit advocates, city planners and policy experts agree this is not a good idea. This is clearly de Blasio paying back developers. They will benefit. Taxes will raise for others. Rents will raise. Those people will be forced out. It is clear. If de Blasio wants to do a transportation project he should focus on areas with existing high demand which lack rails like Utica Avenue. Beyond that this will be flooded! And we will be stuck with the bill. Zoning needs to adjust to global warming and not allow these developments near the water. Politicians should not be allowed to make exemptions to zoning. It's very corrupt. Just like Bushwick Inlet park... lies, lies, lies
June 3, 2016, 11:32 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, US, NY says:
Increasing number of rail projects = Increasing property values = Increasing gentrification process = Increasing displacement for long living tenants and small businesses = Increasing the number of homelessness: A direct relationship for a worst case situation.
June 3, 2016, 11:49 am
Lucas from Bushwick says:
In defense of perversity: Cuba
June 4, 2016, 10:50 am
Marcy from Bk says:
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr - typical male privillege butt-hurt! You're against it because the majority of riders will be female. Keep your sexist attitude in your pants, you pig!
June 4, 2016, 4:26 pm
Annie from Greenpoint says:
What are buildings made of? Usually polystyrene. What do buildings produce? Babies who compete with nature for squarefeet.
June 5, 2016, 7:52 am
b from gp says:
Even though Aby Rosen wants to swankpimp the Four Seasons (one of P Johnson's rare solid contributions to the world), at least he's supposedly making the unusual effort à la Dursts to use sustainable materials, with the Foster building.

Most of Brooklyn's development boom has been unsustainably built, contrary to the plaques of recognition.
June 5, 2016, 10:38 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
Marcy, what are you talking about trolling on my business? May I remind you that your mayor is under investigation of receiving campaign contributions from real estate developers who are creating new development for the Rich? May I remind you that the majority of the route is on a low-lying area that are prone to flooding? May I remind you that there will be a lot of parking spaces lost and traffic congestion along the majority of the route, where there are a lot of commercial traffic along the streets? May I remind you that Mayor de Blasio is under criminal investigation for illegally giving campaign contributions to make the State Senate a democratic majority? May I remind you that many governmental agencies like the DOT and the EDC are corrupted to the rotten core, not caring about us, only the A? May I remind you that anytime, the overall costs will be going up and the delays will be made because of its corruption? I learned that from Larry Penner, a successful transportation historian in the last 30 years. And even Tal from Pleasentville, your archenemy, will be realistically commenting on this issue right now and end this discussion right here? By the end of the day, you think that I don't care about your gender? Think again. I cared about how does this project could affect the quality of life along the waterfront. BTW, blame on Mayor de Blasio and the EDC, not me. Note that the devil is in the details. Leave my trolling comments alone or you will be flagged for abuse.
June 5, 2016, 8:30 pm
Wanda from Park Slope says:
It's clear that Pedro Valdez Riviera Jr. has anger issues. I can only wonder what inspires his anger, directed at anything and everything (the new transportation project, the mayor, Marcy, DOT, EDC....)
You can't take a paranoid nutso like him seriously. Is he logged on from the insane asylum???
June 6, 2016, 3 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
Marcy and Wanda, the reason I am realistically angry about this project is because this project is competing against the MTA and the PA for federal funds; and don't be surprised that the original $1.7B project could go up to $2.5B right now, with the possibility of going up even more. Don't be surprised that because of the bad reputation by NYC to finish major infrastructure projects on time. Don't be surprised that de Blasio will be under indictment for closed door and back door deals with real estate developers. Be realistic ladies: What if another Superstorm Sandy hit NYC and flooded much of the streetcar route? We also know that there are major sea level rises coming up in the next several decades. I commented my concerns about this project in particular and I am not the only one in this comments section that addressed concerns about this project. BTW, you trolling gals don't know the hidden truth behind this project and the devil is in the details. Troll other people who are concerned about this project. Finally, if you believe that the streetcar is a bad idea, then don't vote for this corrupted mayor for the next year's election. If not, don't blame on me and stay out of the way. You people don't handle the truth behind this.
June 6, 2016, 12:45 pm
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
BTW, I am not the first person in NYC that the BQX is a bad idea from the start. You want to troll someone Marcy and Wanda, then go after the commenters before me.
June 6, 2016, 12:47 pm

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