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NYBC: New York City residential permits rose sharply in first quarter of 2017

The number of residential units permitted for construction in New York City during the first quarter of 2017 reached its highest level in a decade, according to a New York Building Congress (NYBC) analysis of U.S. Census data.

During the first three months of this year, the NYC Department of Buildings (NYCDOB) authorized construction of 6,343 residential units, nearly triple the amount achieved in the first quarter of 2016, when the NYCDOB issued permits for 2,158 units, and slightly ahead of the pace set in the first three months of 2015, when 6,183 units were authorized. In fact, this represents the best start to a year since 2007, when 7,264 residential units were permitted for construction across the five boroughs.


The solid first quarter performance represents a significant reversal from 2016. For the full year, the NYCDOB authorized 16,269 housing units – nearly 40,000 shy of the 56,183 units authorized in 2015, a year in which the numbers were significantly bolstered by the rush from developers to get projects approved in time to take advantage of the 421-a program prior to its expiration.

The full year 2016 total was the lowest since 2012, when permits were issued for 10,599 units citywide. Total residential permits reached 18,095 in 2013 and 20,329 in 2014, before skyrocketing in 2015.


“For those anxious that the boom times in the residential construction sector might have ended in 2015, the data from the first three months of 2017 should elicit a huge sigh of relief,” said NYBC president and CEO Carlo A. Scissura.

“The numbers seem to confirm that the drop in 2016 was largely the market taking a breather after the surge in applications prior to the expiration of 421-a,” Scissura said. “We now seem to be in a period of renewed vigor and investor confidence given the relative strength of the overall economy and the recent agreement on Affordable New York, the successor program to 421-a.”

Borough breakdown

With 4,503 units authorized, Brooklyn claimed the top spot for residential permits for the fifth consecutive year in 2016 – but this time by the thinnest of margins. Manhattan came in second place with 4,024, followed closely behind by the Bronx at 4,003. Queens was next with 2,838 units while Staten Island accounted for just 901 units, mostly contained within one- and two-family dwellings.

While the raw number of units authorized in the Bronx declined by 679 between 2015 and 2016, its citywide share of permitted units rose from 8 percent in 2015 to approximately 25 percent in 2016.

The number of units permitted in Brooklyn fell by 21,523 last year. The borough’s overall share of authorized units similarly fell – from 46 percent in 2015 to just under 28 percent last year.

To date, Brooklyn has gotten off to the quickest start in 2017, with 2,097, or 33 percent, of all permitted units citywide. Manhattan is second with 1,486 units, followed by Queens at 1,434, the Bronx at 1,124, and Staten Island with 202 units authorized for construction.

“While Brooklyn remains at the forefront of the residential development wave, it is nice to see such a solid showing in Queens and the Bronx as well,” Scissura said. “It will be interesting to see what type of impact Affordable New York will have on the boroughs moving forward, especially in neighborhoods such as Astoria, where the Durst Organization recently announced it is moving ‘full steam’ ahead with its 2,400-unit Hallets Point project.”

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