Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Manhattan ESA link seen boosting home values

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A report released Monday says home values in parts of Long Island—a region which has suffered, sometimes dramatically, since the Great Recession—will be greatly aided by MTA Long Island Rail Road's East Side Access (ESA) project, projected now to open in 2019.

ESA will offer LIRR direct access to Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, at present home exclusively to trains operated by LIRR sister entity Metro-North Railroad. LIRR's main terminus at present is Pennsylvania Station, on Manhattan's West Side, where many riders transfer to subways or buses to backtrack to East Side job locations.

The report, issued by the Regional Plan Association (RPA), says home values will increase by an average of $7,300 for nearly 600,000 households in Queens and suburban Long Island as a result of ESA. The RPA study, "Rail Rewards: How LIRR's Grand Central Connection Will Boost Home Values," says cumulative home values will rise by $4.7 billion.

"East Side Access will provide the economy of Long Island with a much-needed boost," said Juliette Michaelson, RPA's vice president for strategic initiatives and the lead author of the study. "When commutes are shorter, people have more time to do other things, and they will pay for the convenience."

"Good public transit increases housing values," said RPA President Robert D. Yaro. "We have seen time and time again in metropolitan areas across the U.S. that when commuter-rail service is added or improved, home prices near stations rise."

The change may come even before ESA is completed, the report says, noting, “Much of the value of East Side Access will be apparent the day the service begins, particularly for the thousands of LIRR commuters who will have a quicker and easier time getting work. Homeowners may see the value of the homes start to increase even earlier. In New Jersey, values in many places began to rise in anticipation of Midtown Direct,” which established direct rail access to Manhattan’s Penn Station from north central New Jersey points in June 1996.

RPA said that, over time, the economic benefits of East Side Access could be even larger. Improved connections at Grand Central, additional transit investments on Long Island, and development around station areas on Long Island, such as Transit Oriented Development (TOD), would spur job growth and enhance home values further.

The full report is available online on RPA's website.