NYC construction starts drop 64 percent

By Sarabeth Sanders | August 24, 2010 09:30AM

New York City saw $2.5 billion worth of construction projects get off the ground last quarter, a 64 percent decline from the first quarter of the year’s $6.9 billion, and a sign that an industry recovery may be further off on the horizon than previously hoped, according to the latest report from the New York Building Congress.

The second quarter volume also represents a 43 percent year-over-year drop and a 55 percent drop from the same period in 2008, according to the report, which is based on data from McGraw-Hill Dodge and includes new construction, alterations, renovations and public works projects like bridges and highways.

The non-residential sector, including offices, hotels, schools, cultural institutions and government buildings, fared worst, with starts down to $1.5 billion during the second quarter from $5.4 billion during the first three months of the year.

Only slightly better, the residential sector saw project starts decline to $266 million in the second quarter, from $673 million in the first.

Non-building projects experienced modest declines, with starts down to $702 million in the second quarter from $774 million the quarter before.

“The second quarter numbers are clearly disappointing — especially coming on the heels of two relatively impressive quarters,” said Richard Anderson, president of the New York Building Congress. “Even more troubling is the lack of construction starts by the government sector, which has recently been responsible for about 60 percent of all construction activity in New York City.”

“If the city and state governments are unable to maintain their capital budgets in the face of declining revenues, and if the federal government loses its appetite for stimulus spending, it looks like rough sledding for the construction industry,” Anderson said.