Denizens of Williamsburg Hope L Train Shutdown Doesn't Turn the Hood Into a No Man's Land

Will the lure of Williamsburg stay the same once the L train shuts down for 18 months of repairs? Many store and restaurant owners say yes. Brooklyn Reporter Jeanine Ramirez has more.

At Brooklyn Spectacles, the marketing is as much about its location as its product.

"The biggest thing going for us is that it's Williamsburg," said Scott Anthony, owner of Brooklyn Spectacles, a shop that sells eyeglasses.

And the design names reflect that. There's the McCarren. The Berry. The Bedford. There's even the L Train. It's the L train, not the glasses, that serves as a lifeline to this community. But with the MTA announcing last week that it'll shutdown in 2019 for 18 months of repairs, how will that affect shoppers looking for their Driggs?

"It's not fun," Anthony said. "It's not going to be great for business. It will hamper some foot traffic."

Foot traffic here is high, particularly on Bedford Avenue. Apple just opened a store here. So did Whole Foods. The deli by the Bedford Avenue train station stays open 24 hours.

"Usually it's very busy over here in Williamsburg," said Yeshi Lhamo, who was behind the counter at Khim's Millennium Market.

Restaurant owners say during the shutdown, they expect local residents will keep their business afloat. As for visitors, some are taking a wait and see approach. 

"We have a business here," said Vivian Chang, owner Red Bowl Restaurant. "And it's hard. In the begining maybe. We'll see what happen."

Others say tourists will find them.

"They're not going to skip Bedford Avenue only because there's no L train," said Maya Vujadinovic. "They're going to pay taxi or whatever."

According to the MTA, about 400,000 riders use the L Train on weekdays.

When it is out of service, Northside Car Service hopes to benefit.

"It's been a little bit slow," said Edgar Jolalpa. "Uber is around so. Hopefully with the train shutdown, it'll generate more business."

While the repair project will cause inconvenience, Real Estate Broker Daniel Tropp says he does not expect any major downturn in the neighborhood.  

The area has been growing and developing for decades and over the long term, we see this as a minor blip on the radar. it's still an $800 million investment in infrastructure so over the long term we feel like it'll be very beneficial and improve the line and improve the communities it serves."

In the meantime, there also may be a spike in bike ridership.

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