New York City construction starts were down 30 percent in 2011

New York City office construction starts in 2011 saw a 30 percent decline in value year-over-year, according to a New York Building Congress release issued today. Citing McGraw-Hill Construction Dodge data, a total of $1.8 billion worth of office construction began in New York City last year alone, as opposed to the $2.6 billion started in 2010.

The reason? The report indicates the 30 percent drop is directly attributable to a dearth of construction starting from the ground up. While a total of 80 percent of 2011’s office construction starts involved the alteration and renovation of already existing space, only 20 percent was linked to construction of brand new office space.

Last year’s new construction starts tallied a total of $335 million — down from a $1.4 billion in 2010 and $874 million in 2009. The jump in 2010 is tied to the start of construction of two towers at the World Trade Center, the release said. According to previous coverage by The Real Deal, other factors included the construction of the Barclays Center and the Weill Cornell Medical Research Building. As for alterations and renovations, the numbers are more stable. Last year’s number came in at $1.5 billion — up from $1.2 billion in 2010, but down from the $1.7 billion in 2009. The first four months of 2012 raked in $340 million for alteration and restoration projects.

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These numbers show good news for those who work in interiors. “In addition to investments being made by firms who are leasing space in existing buildings,” said New York Building Congress President Richard Anderson in the release, “many companies are spending considerable amounts to reconfigure and modernize their leased spaces to promote more efficient and productive work environments.”

But Anderson said he’s concerned that the not-so-rosy outlook for those who work on the exterior side of things could lead to an increase of unemployment among ironworkers and operating engineers, for example, especially if no new projects replace the nearly complete 1 World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center and the International Gem Tower. As The Real Deal previously reported, New York City’s construction industry employed fewer people in the first quarter of this year than it did in any quarter during the last 13 years. — Zachary Kussin