Construction pipeline soars 69%: REBNY

New projects are on the rise YoY, but sf down from previous quarter

REBNY president James Whelan (REBNY, iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
REBNY president James Whelan (REBNY, iStock/Photo Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)

New York City construction is booming in the third year of the pandemic — just not at the rate it was a quarter ago, by some measures.

The city counted 689 new building filings during the first quarter, an increase of 69.3 percent from a year ago and 3.6 percent from the previous quarter, according to a new building construction pipeline report from the Real Estate Board of New York. The number of filings also represented the highest volume for a quarter since 2014.

Other parts of the construction pipeline are also on the rise from the same time last year. The amount of square footage in those project filings, roughly 23.3 million square feet, is more than 300 percent higher than the first quarter of 2021. The amount of residential units, slightly more than 20,000, is up more than 500 percent year-over-year.

Despite the increases, those numbers aren’t as promising when compared to the most recent quarter. The planned square footage is down about 25.6 percent from the fourth quarter and planned residential units planned were down by more than 4,000 units, although the fourth quarter’s total was a record.

The report points towards a lack of very large filings — defined as more than 300,000 square feet — as a reason for the square footage drop. There were only 16 very large filings last quarter, down from 26 the previous quarter; the 16 filings account for 6.4 million square feet, more than 25 percent of the quarterly total.

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Brooklyn leads the multifamily sector with more than 10,000 planned units in the first quarter filings, the second most for any borough since 2008. Queens has an influx of more than 5,700 units and set a borough record with 84 projects planned in a single quarter; it also had the most number of new projects overall, 227.

The biggest filing of the quarter was in Queens, where a 23-story, 500-unit mixed-use building is being developed at 94-15 Sutphin Boulevard.

Among the boroughs, Manhattan was at the other end of the project filings, seeing only 20 in the first quarter.

Despite the downturn from the fourth quarter, executives are seeing the positivity in the construction rebound from a year ago.

“There is no question New York is not only recovering, but beginning to thrive again, as always,” Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, said in a statement.

The optimism may not last long for the industry, though. The multifamily tax break Affordable New York, better known as 421a, is set to expire on June 15. Developers have warned few apartment projects will start in the city without the break as financing for apartment projects has ground to a stop amid the impending expiration.