Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of attending a breakfast for Mikie Sherrill, who is running for the House of Representatives in the 11th district of New Jersey in a highly competitive race. The 11th (The Fighting 11th!) is close to NYC, and is home to a lot of people who moved out to the suburbs after years or decades working in Manhattan and Brooklyn, so it’s fitting that she also spent a portion of her life on the Upper West Side. A fighter pilot for the Navy and then federal prosecutor, mother of four, and generally inspiring person, she is equal parts polished and real. Her speech about why she and so many other female veterans are choosing to run (service, not the desire to be re-elected ad nauseam) and how her military service has trained her to be bipartisan (you don’t get to choose who you work with, and it’s often life or death) was inspiring. It was the perfect way to start my week.
So everyone, VOTE, but the rest of this post is about an important infrastructure project she discussed, rather than about politics. You’re welcome.
One of the things Mikie listed as a high priority in her district is the proposed Gateway Program, expanding railway service between New Jersey and Manhattan. OK, I know that doesn’t sound exciting, but bear with me.
The Gateway Program, originally called the Gateway Project (why the rebrand, guys?), was first presented in 2011, but a lack of funding has slowed its progress. They have, however, been making some improvements and building new tracks on the West side of Manhattan since they received some funding after Hurricane Sandy. The finished project will double the number of trains that can be in use at any given time. And judging by how overcrowded the platforms are, while running at full capacity, this is sorely needed. It’s also a safety issue; there were two train derailments in two weeks last July.
I was only vaguely aware of this project, and was surprised that she was bringing it up. But it will bring a lot of buyers and renters to Northern NJ, which is good for her district. And it’s good for NYC, too! And anyone who wants to access NYC from the North. But there are opponents. Apparently a main issue is that some other states are objecting to federal funding for the project because it “only affects New York and New Jersey.” First off, highways in Texas pretty much only affect Texas, and levees in Louisiana pretty much only affect Louisiana, but they’re still important and deserve federal funding, because we are all in this together. No state left behind! Second, Gateway is an apt name for the project, as it connects the entire Northeast corridor to Manhattan. This makes commuting easier, which makes it easier for people to live outside the city and still work in NYC. It It would hopefully also reduce cost of tickets, although that’s giving Amtrak the benefit of the doubt here. But you guys know I’m all about accessibility over here!
Thank you, New York, for recognizing its dependence on access to the outside world, and trying to bring the world to us. While so many people are being isolationist and hating on refugees, this city has always acknowledged that’s the surest way to failure (sorry, I lied, last two paragraphs still political).
Real estate value here is that any increase in accessibility is good for prices. Services like Lyft Line and Uber Pool have made neighborhoods without good transit options (large swaths of Brooklyn and Queens) easier to live in as a commuter to areas where parking is an issue. The Second Avenue line on the Upper East Side has made those living east of 1st Ave less miserable. And home prices have risen in tandem.
It works in reverse, too. The L train shutdown is an obvious example, that caused rents and some sales prices to drop, especially in areas like off the Grand stop, where there really is no alternative subway. Less obvious, the fact that the MTA is so abysmal IN GENERAL has caused people to . This is more relevant to renting than buying, because ideally these issues are temporary and not insurmountable.
Obviously there are unintended side effects of increased prices (gentrification!), but if we are JUST focusing on home ownership and increasing your equity, it’s a good thing. If you’re in a position to buy in an area that is currently not particularly accessible, and can suck it up for a couple years, you can get some great value. There’s a reason so many people are currently finding value in East New York, Crown Heights, and Ridgewood (to name a few ‘hoods). If you want to talk further about this, hit your girl UP!
Love you guys.