NYC higher education institutions strong in construction activity

Report highlights expansion of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Columbia's Manhattanville project
August 02, 2011 12:36PM

Public and private institutional investment in New York City remained strong even in the recession with new construction starts worth $11.4 billion from June 2008 to May 2011, according to a report released today by the American Building Congress.

Even though the value of new construction starts fell $3.2 billion between June 2010 and May 2011, the report notes that that figure did not include several large projects that had not officially been recorded as of May 31. Those include the $680 million Whitney Museum project near the High Line and Fordham University $250 million multi-use facility near Lincoln Center.  

Public institutions have been responsible for just over 50 percent of new construction starts over the past three years, the report notes. The New York City School Construction Authority was the largest driver of construction starts, initiating nearly $4.5 billion in projects over that three-year period. The health and hospital sector was responsible for $2.6 billion in construction starts, with more than three quarters of those initiated by private healthcare institutions.
In particular, the report spotlighted significant construction activity by public and private higher education institutions. According to the data, 75 percent of new construction starts, measured by value, were started by the City University of New York, the State University of New York or other government-related entities such as the New York Police Department’s new $250 million police academy in Flushing, Queens. 

Other recent examples include the $381 million CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, a new $222 million Boricua campus facility in the Bronx, and the $210 million reconstruction of Fiterman Hall. CUNY’s ongoing, five-year, $2.5 billion capital plan is “particularly encouraging,” the report says. It includes the $587 million expansion of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a $400 million academy building for the New York City College of Technology. 

The activity by private institutions of higher education is “unprecedented,”according to the report. In June 2010, Columbia University cleared a last legal hurdle for its plans to expand its Manhattanville campus, a $6.3 billion expansion that will encompass 6.8 million square feet covering 17 acres.  Work on the first new facility, the $175 million Jerome L. Greene Science Center, started in May. 

Meanwhile, the report also notes that  New York University recently released its 20-year growth and development strategy that calls for the eventual construction of up to six million square feet of new facilities that would be located in the university’s historic Greenwich Village core as well as other parts of the city, such as Downtown Brooklyn and Governors Island. — Miranda Neubauer