Manhattan new building permits drop 70%

By James Kelly | July 08, 2009 01:07PM

New building permits issued in the first five months of the year showed a year-over-year drop in all five boroughs for the second year in a row, according to data prepared by the Department of Buildings for The Real Deal. Citywide, permits were down 48.5 percent from the same period last year to 720, and were down 69 percent from the first half of 2007, when the building boom was still in full force.

Of the five boroughs, Manhattan saw the biggest drop from last year, with 18 building permits filed between January and May, or 72.3 percent fewer than in the same period of 2008. This number was off 71.9 percent from 2007. Brooklyn and the Bronx were also hit hard, seeing a 66 percent drop to 115 permits, and a 67 percent drop to 73 permits, respectively. New permits in Brooklyn were off 79.9 percent from 2007, while in the Bronx they were off 81.1 percent.

It remains unclear whether or not there is a turnaround in new construction anywhere on the horizon, but Henry Kita, senior vice president of the Building Trades Employers’ Association of New York, said that based on economic indicators, it’s doubtful it will come this year.

“It looks like it will take well over a year to see things move upward again, as far as construction is concerned,” Kita said. “But then again, just as nobody saw the [economic] fallout coming, maybe conditions will suddenly get rosier and surprise us.”

Both Queens and Staten Island saw a more gentle decrease in new building permits. In Queens, there have been 337 issued this year through May, down 39.9 percent from the first five months of 2008, and down 66.4 percent from the same period in 2007. There were 177 permits issued in Staten Island, a 17.3 percent decrease from the same period in 2008, but down 40.8 percent from the same period in 2007.