New building applications in Manhattan fall to three

There were just three new building permit applications filed for Manhattan construction projects in September — the lowest number since September 2001, when only a single application was filed.

The three applications — which represent an 87 percent drop from the 23 filed in the same month last year —  were for buildings in Chelsea, the East Village and Harlem. In August, there were eight applications for buildings in Manhattan, according to Department of Buildings records.

The average number of applications filed over the past 12 months in Manhattan was 17.7. Meanwhile, citywide last month there were 222 permit applications — a drop from 318 in September 2007. In general there are more permit applications in the outer boroughs. That’s because one- to three-family homes which dominate outside of Manhattan each get a single permit, in the same way that a large, multiple-unit building does within Manhattan.

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Building applications are key predictors of future development activity, and the low number of them was greeted with concern by contractors.

Alfred Gerosa, the chairman of the executive committee of the Cement League, an association of concrete construction contractors, said developers did not have funds to move forward on projects.

“We are in trouble if there are only three filed. That means things are slowing up,” he said. “You can look for quite a bit of unemployment, certainly for union laborers and contractors.”
The building applications filed for were for a four-story convent at 454 Convent Avenue in Harlem; an eight-story, 34-unit residential building at 59 East 2nd Street in the East Village; and a two-story commercial building at 508 West 20th Street in Chelsea, DOB records showed.