Construction activity dips for fourth straight year: REBNY

But new filings, total floor area rebounded in Q4

From left: 2-10 54th Avenue in Long Island City, 355 Exterior Street in the Bronx and a rendering of 145 Wolcott Street (Google Maps, Arquitectonica, iStock)
From left: 2-10 54th Avenue in Long Island City, 355 Exterior Street in the Bronx and a rendering of 145 Wolcott Street (Google Maps, Arquitectonica, iStock)

Construction activity in New York City declined for the fourth straight year in 2020, according to a new report from the Real Estate Board of New York — although activity picked up in the last quarter with several big new projects.

Just 1,760 new building plans were filed in 2020, the lowest number the city has seen since 2012, representing a nearly 10 percent decline from 2019’s total. The total square footage of 42.67 million, down 28 percent year-over-year, was also the lowest figure in that time span. The number of multiple dwelling units declined 18 percent to 27,402.

But construction metrics for the fourth quarter paint a more optimistic picture. The 544 filings in the last three months of 2020 represented a 23 percent quarter-over-quarter increase, and a 34 percent jump year-over-year. The total proposed construction floor area in new filings was up 58 percent from the prior quarter, while the number of multiple dwelling units was up 19 percent.

Courtesy of REBNY

Courtesy of REBNY

Most of the new construction filings were in the outer boroughs. The largest new project of the fourth quarter was in Queens, where TF Cornerstone filed plans for a 812-unit, 39-story building at 2-10 54th Avenue in Long Island City, as well as a 575-unit, 34-story apartment building at 55-01 Second Street. The two buildings will total 1.43 million square feet.

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In the Bronx, plans were filed for a 690,000-square-foot, 43-story residential building with 710 apartments at 355 Exterior Street in Mott Haven, part of a 2,000-unit residential development from Lightstone Group. In Brooklyn’s Red Hook, developer Alexandros Washburn filed plans for a 407,000-square-foot, 15-story mixed-use building at 145 Wolcott Street.

In Manhattan, plans were filed for a 167,000-square-foot, 28-story residential building with community facility at 620 West 153rd Street in Hamilton Heights, a site that the Chetrit family acquired for $28.75 million in May, according to property records.

But REBNY president James Whelan said more needs to be done to help move past the “historically challenging” year that was 2020.

“The reality is that our City is not currently getting enough construction projects underway — and it is not creating enough housing, including affordable housing, to address immediate and long-term needs,” Whelan said.

He also highlighted the importance of initiatives put forward by Governor Cuomo and the Biden administration, aimed towards encouraging investment in new construction and infrastructure as part of the post-pandemic recovery.

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