The Real Deal New York

New York City falls behind in residential construction

Meanwhile, building in other major U.S. cities has recovered to pre-crash levels
August 11, 2014 11:00AM

New York City is falling behind other cities when it comes to building new housing.

Permits for constructing residential units in U.S. cities have recovered to pre-crash levels in major U.S. cities, the Wall Street Journal reported. But in New York, the 17,995 units that were approved in 2013 represent just more than half of the 34,000 authorized in 2008, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures cited by the newspaper.

San Francisco, Washington, D.C, Seattle and Boston have all seen residential construction recover, according to the Journal.

Among the reasons for the sluggish pace of construction that developers pointed to are an arcane building approval process, difficulty securing financing, high land prices and competition from pricey condo developments and the Bloomberg administration’s creation of more than 40 historic districts. [WSJ]Tom DiChristopher

  • Crian Bashman

    I wonder what the #s would look like if instead of comparing unit count they compared residential square footage.

    • ISpeakTheTruth


  • ISpeakTheTruth

    You’re diagnosing it wrong! The reason unit count is half of what 2008’s unit count is because of the luxury (and ultra-luxury) development phenomenon! And luxury development means bigger units, and bigger units means smaller overall unit count. Which is why most buildings in Manhattan are now 10, 20 or 30 unit buildings with average unit square footage of 2,000sqft+! If Manhattan’s new buildings had smaller unit sizes the unit count would be the same as 2008. But demand has dictated bigger units. Very few people will pay $3500/sqft. for a studio.

    • Brian Hughes

      have you seen luxury units before? They are not always bigger. In terms of condos they are generally bigger, but luxury rentals this does not always hold true for.

  • ISpeakTheTruth

    It does make sense to put some of the blame on building approval process. At the St. Vincent’s Hospital conversion in the Village the developer originally planned to have 400 units. The community was outraged, saying things like it would cause too much traffic in the neighborhood overwhelm schools blah blah blah. So the developer cut it down to 200 units. How could he do that? By making each unit bigger and when you have bigger units you have higher price-points. Now many of the same that complained about the development being too large complain about are complaining about the units being too expensive? What did you think was going to happen? To have half the number of apartments, the units have to be at least double the price so that the developer can get this same overall net! It’s basic math.