Bushwick residents living underneath part of the M line will lose their homes for at least six months next year when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority boots them out during repairs to the subway tracks above — but some are worried the move will be more permanent.
The agency says it will temporarily relocate residents and businesses during the work, but it is also offering to buy the buildings outright, and one resident predicts panic amongst long-time tenants who face losing their cheap digs under the rumbling rails in the increasingly pricey nabe.
“It’s gonna create a bit of a crisis,” said Whitney Fink, who has lived in a row house on Ditmars Street, between Myrtle Avenue and Broadway, for five years but says she’s more worried for her neighbors. “I know if I was looking for an apartment right now around here, I wouldn’t be able to afford it.”
Many residents only learned the bad news after a Newsday report on Sunday revealed the agency plans to clear residential and commercial buildings at the triangle of Myrtle Avenue, Broadway and Ditmars Street for six to 10 months — “but potentially longer” — starting in June of 2017, while it demolishes and rebuilds the century-old s-shaped elevated tracks.
The transit body confirmed the news on Monday and claimed that it has already made “initial contact” with those affected, but many residents and workers said they still hadn’t heard anything — just rumors from their neighbors — which is only contributing to the confusion.
An employee at one of the businesses on the chopping block says he and his colleagues did get a letter — though only after a Newsday reporter told them first — but it didn’t really clear anything up.
“They sent us a letter in legal-ese,” said Jarad Needham, who manages Harvest Cyclery on Myrtle Avenue, “I don’t know what’s going on, but what can I do?”
A spokesman said the agency will provide real-estate professionals and “relocation specialists” for those affected to ensure “minimal distress” for everyone involved, but Needham doubts the bike business will bother accepting a short-term relocation.
He doesn’t think it will be adequately compensated for the money and effort it will have to put into re-building its brand and clientele in an entirely new spot for a short period of time, and — like any seasoned straphanger — he doesn’t trust the authority to stick to its timetable.
“They say six months, but it could be a year and a half,” he said.
The transportation authority will also close the Knickerbocker and Central stops for around 10 months during the repairs, as well as Myrtle Avenue for around two. During that time, it will re-route the M train along the J and Z line, and provide buses between the shuttered stops.