Major US cities saw sharp drops in new construction projects in 2017: report

Multifamily pullback drove the decline in New York, LA and Miami

Miami, NYC, and Los Angeles skylines (Credit: Max Pixel, Pixabay)
Miami, NYC, and Los Angeles skylines (Credit: Max Pixel, Pixabay)

Multifamily and commercial construction slowed in most major U.S. metro areas last year, according to a new report. Major declines in funding for new construction starts were registered in cities like New York, Miami and Los Angeles.

The report by Dodge Data & Analytics tracked the 20 cities with the highest dollar contribution for new construction projects last year. The total was $194.7 billion, down from $209 billion in 2016.

Dodge mostly attributed the decrease to a pullback in multifamily construction; that sector was down 12 percent overall. Commercial building experienced a less dramatic 3 percent slide.

The New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island metro area saw $25 billion worth of projects that broke ground last year. That was by far the top market for new construction in the ranking. Total was a 16 percent drop from 2016.

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New commercial building was off by more than 25 percent. Multifamily construction slid 4 percent. Experts say a portion of that decline could be attributed to the Affordable New York legislation, an affordable housing tax abatement program that replaced the 421-a abatement.

Los Angeles, which was second on the list, recorded $8 billion worth of construction starts last year. It saw multifamily drop 17 percent and commercial dip nearly 25 percent. The largest projects there were the $150 million JW Marriot Hotel in Anaheim and the $110 million Porter Ranch retail center in Northridge.

Miami registered a total of $6.6 billion in new construction, down 20 percent from 2016. That was good for sixth on the list. The decline reversed a sharp increase in 2016. Multifamily construction, which is at a low-point in the city, fell by half.

Miami’s overall numbers don’t paint the whole picture though. Commercial construction was a positive point, up 40 percent. That’s thanks in part to the $1.5 billion expansion of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, which is set to open in mid-2019.