Construction Projects in NYC See Slowest Start in Over a Decade

Photo Credit: Google Maps

By: Hadassa Kalatizadeh

The year 2021 has yielded a historically slow start to New York City’s construction industry, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new report from the Real Estate Board of New York showed that plans for new construction projects in the Big Apple reached their lowest level in over a decade. As reported by Crain’s NY, there is only a total of approximately 5.4 million square feet in new construction plans filed by companies in the first quarter of 2021, which is the lowest level seen since the fourth quarter of 2010. There are currently just 98 new multifamily projects filed by companies, also the lowest number the third quarter of 2011.

The report indicates that in the first quarter, companies filed plans to construct 407 new buildings in all, which is about a 25 percent decline in comparison to the last quarter, and only 13.1 percent better than the first quarter of 2020. Further, compared to last year, the total square footage of new projects planned fell 42.2% year over year and 52.7% quarter over quarter.

In the first quarter of 2021, merely two of the 407 projects filed were bigger than 300,000 square feet–namely Naftali Group’s 486,416-square-foot mixed-use towers at 480 and 490 Kent Ave. in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, and Rabina’s 452,134-square-foot 70-story mixed-use building in Midtown’s 520 Fifth Ave. Those two projects accounted for close to 17 percent of the total square feet of construction filed in the first quarter.

In all, 3,336 housing units were filed as part of multifamily projects, which is a 54 percent decline from last quarter, and 49 percent decrease year over year. Of the five boroughs, the Bronx had the most filing activity by number of residential units (1,119).  Brooklyn filed 39 residential projects, which was the most residential projects filed in any single borough.  Overall, Queens had the highest number of new filings, at 129.  Disappointingly, Manhattan had the lowest number of projects planned–just 22, though those projects made up the largest portion of the total proposed construction space, or almost 29 percent.

In response to the report’s findings, the REBNY urged Congress to pass President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan, which the group said would pump $2 trillion into the ailing construction industry.  “Congress must act swiftly to pass President Biden’s infrastructure plan, which will play a critical role in advancing a strong economic recovery for New York and creating thousands of good jobs,” REBNY President James Whelan said in a statement.