Hoylman’s ‘L’ of an idea: Get developer to add exit

With only one exit at its western end, the First Ave. L station is often massively congested.  Photos by Zach Williams

With only one exit at its western end, the First Ave. L station is often massively congested. Photos by Zach Williams

BY ZACH WILLIAMS  |  As one real estate developer seeks to build up, state Senator Brad Hoylman suggests they burrow below as well.

Word, however, has yet to reach Hoylman in response to a letter to Extell Development Company suggesting the latter contribute to the construction of a second exit at the First Ave. station on the L subway line.

Continued development in the East Village is causing a need for cooperation between government and private interests in updating the 89-year-old station, according to Hoylman.

“With only one station entrance/exit at the western end of the platform, there is massive congestion at the stairs during rush hours,” reads the state senator’s Feb. 10 letter. “The lone exit also raises serious concerns about egress in the case of an emergency. It is clear that an eastern entrance at 14th St. and Avenue A will eventually be needed in order to ensure the safety and efficiency of this station.”

The letter concludes with the stated hope that the developer will work with the city to ensure that, no matter from where funding derives, straphangers will eventually be able to exit the station via its eastern end.

“Such improved station access would be a benefit to your new development’s residents as well as the neighborhood as a whole,” Hoylman wrote.

Extell, one of the most prolific developers in New York City, plans to rebuild a significant portion of the block, which it leased in 2012 from Solil Management for $35.1 million, according to a report earlier this year by real estate publication The Real Deal. The resulting structure would be seven stories tall and have a mix of both residential and retail space, states the report.

Although the developer has yet to respond to Hoylman’s suggestion to fund the proposed new station exit, changes to the current site are upcoming, according to Anna LaPorte, who works for a public relations firm that represents Extell.

Extell Development Company plans to construct a seven-story mixed-use building on E. 14th St. at Avenue A.

Extell Development Company plans to construct a seven-story mixed-use building on E. 14th St. at Avenue A.

“While the plans for the site have not been finalized, demolition is slated for this spring,” she said in an e-mail. “Extell does intend to meet with members of the community in the near future.”

Raising awareness of the issue was the primary aim of the letter, said Julia Alschuler, a spokesperson for Hoylman. She added that he will now seek a meeting with the developer as well as discussing other funding options with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Such private funding of a subway exit would be rather “unique,” said M.T.A. spokesperson Kevin Ortiz. Determining costs and the time needed to realize the proposed alteration cannot be done currently, he added.

“It’s way too early to speculate on details and the process moving forward,” he said in an e-mail.

While stations at First and Third Aves. both have only one exit, the former accommodates more than three times more riders, about 7.1 million annually, according to M.T.A. statistics. Subway riders interviewed by The Villager said crowds are denser and space on trains scarcer at the First Ave. station, making it harder to access the one exit as well.

“It’s usually hard to get on,” said Maxine Senior, who lives in Midtown.

Factors such as mechanical reliability and frequency of service helped the L line earn the distinction as the fifth best out of 19 subway lines ranked in the annual State of the Subways Report, released on March 7 by the Straphangers Campaign. Yet, at the same time, the line struggled with below-average rates of open seating and uncollected garbage on platforms.

Crowding on the platform varies throughout the day. The morning and early evening rush hours with the L train shuttling people between the East Village and Williamsburg are a frustrating experience for some regular riders.

“Oh, my God, yeah, it is,” said Luis Piabrasanta, a construction worker who said he has used the station for the past 25 years.

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