2017 New Construction Report: Building Applications Crash, Down 38 Percent Since 2015

2017 SkyscrapersAll 900'+ buildings currently rising in New York City

New building applications for single and multi-family residential developments in New York City saw a major slowdown in 2016, as the fading boom following the changes that occurred at the Department of Buildings in 2014 began to slack further. Numbers have plunged by over half since 2014, and by 38 percent since 2015. YIMBY’s full report, with all building applications, is available for purchase at the store.

Activity varied across the board, though every borough saw a substantial decrease in new building filings. Manhattan fared the best, with units filed dropping from 5,593 to 4,193. Queens’ small year-over-year increase in 2015 was completely reversed in 2016, with numbers dropping from 9,591 to 5,981. Brooklyn was impacted even worse, with numbers dropping from 11,554 to 6,449. The Bronx was also hit hard, falling from 6,317 units filed in 2015 to 3,919 in 2016, and Staten Island rounded out the five boroughs’ misery with a fall from 1,214 to 831.

The trend this year would seem to indicate that the market downturn that became pronounced in Manhattan during last year’s report is now leveling out, while the tsunami of negativity is now reaching the outer boroughs. Brooklyn’s pipeline submissions have fallen by almost 70 percent since the height of 2014, while activity in Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island is returning closer to typically anemic levels.

In terms of the largest projects, Queens easily led the pack. A massive filing for a 921-unit project in Long Island City this past May was the largest of all, at 23-03 44th Road, under development by the Stawski Group and being designed by Goldstein Hill & West. The 774-unit 23-15 44th Drive, being developed by Chris Xu, comes in second place. It will also be designed by Goldstein Hill & West, and will rise in the same neighborhood, becoming the tallest building in Queens at an anticipated height of 984 feet.

The next two largest projects are set to rise in Manhattan. The 389-unit 430 East 58th Street was filed just before the New Year, and will be designed by the Stephen B. Jacobs Group and developed by Gamma Realty. 515 West 42nd Street comes next, which is being designed by Handel Architects and developed by BD Hotels, with 350 units in all.

Brooklyn rounds out the top five multi-family filings for 2016 with the 311-unit 3514 Surf Avenue, which was also filed just before the New Year. That building is being developed by John Catsimatidis and designed by Goldstein Hill & West.

While large multi-family construction waned in 2016, the city saw a surprising surge in hotel development, which would ordinarily be a positive sign. The number of rooms filed at the DOB rose from 4,286 to 5,653, increasing by 31 percent. Unfortunately, many of these filings came in periphery neighborhoods that do not ordinarily see anything of the sort, offering an ominous sign of the worsening homeless crisis, as one such project in Maspeth created a community uproar when it transitioned from hotel to homeless shelter last year.

On the plus side, Queens will soon gain the city’s largest hotel outside of Times Square. 24-09 Jackson Avenue will have 1,260 rooms in all, rising 50 floors. The Toyoko Hotel Chain is behind the project, which promises to help cement Court Square as a burgeoning 24/7 neighborhood.

As YIMBY correctly predicted in last year’s pipeline report,

“The Mayor’s policy on housing seems to be a series of ad-libbed responses rather than any type of cohesive plan to promote affordability, and consequently, all types of development are likely to be affected by continued uncertainty regarding what is actually happening, since no-one in local government seems to have any idea what is going on.”

With regards to 2017, more of the same is likely, if not worse. As new development applications have continued to plunge, both the governor and mayor have focused on fanciful vanity projects like creating unrealistic renderings for expansions and renovations at LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports, as well as Penn Station. With the Second Avenue Subway’s costs beyond those of any other line on Earth, government continues to spend the city into oblivion, and plans for the latest round of supposed improvements seem unlikely to leave Cuomo’s imagination.

On the ground, the unfolding chaos between dumbfounded community groups and an increasingly kleptocratic local and state bureaucracy is likely a minor taste of what’s to come later in 2017, as the Maspeth controversy will soon be echoed in similar cases across the rest of the outer boroughs. Whether all of these hotels end up being used to house homeless people remains to be seen, but it is becoming increasingly clear that a solution to the city’s worst-ever homeless numbers is eluding a mayor whose mantra has been “affordable housing.”

In any event, if there are any bright spots, the boom that began in 2014 continues to echo in the city’s skyline. While new building applications may be down substantially, many of the projects that were filed for during the frenzy are now rising out of the ground. Since last year’s report, 175 Greenwich Street (3 World Trade Center) has topped-out, One Vanderbilt has begun construction, and the official design for 220 Central Park South has been revealed, as depicted in the below image created by New York YIMBY’s Jose Hernandez.

2017 Skyscrapers

All 900’+ buildings currently rising in New York City, click for hi-res

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13 Comments on "2017 New Construction Report: Building Applications Crash, Down 38 Percent Since 2015"

  1. So high with new supertall all on rising to New York City, Manhattan is number one for stunning skyscrapers forever.

  2. So, new filings in 2015 was about 35,000 new apartments, to be built, and in next year after that, was down to 21,000, that’s still represents over 25-30 millions square feet of residentials, or about 2,5 millions square meters, do you think is new construction is piped down, this a free fall market, and just represent a new filing, not even as actual construction of new buildings, what’s still at highest boom ever, at least for last 27 years of my life in NYC!!! When you could built 2 or 3 millions square meters of residential or 25-35 millions square feet, few dozen thousands apartments per one year, it’s still one of biggest boom for residential construction in whole NYC history!!!

  3. Plus you couldn’t even compare the quality and sizes of new apartments with these Socialistic projects built in NYC in 1940s through 1960s, or you believed these boxes of unattractive brick or bare concrete flats are better than each individually designed ultra modern buildings, who are under constraction or under new filings now!?

  4. David, this misleading article, NYC is still booming with new construction, I live in NYC since 1989, I never see such boom like in last several years for new construction. 8 Supertalls under construction now, all over 984 feet, plus 1 building at 950 feet, 220 Central Park West, Neo-Art Deco/Post Modern. Several tall towers from 700-900 feet high, who are under construction now, to add this list for over dozen at total. Plus to add to this a really big list of new towers between 500 to 700 feet. Whoever who write this article doesn’t understand a normal fluctuated free market, so if in 2016 it was new filing was for 21,000 new apartments to be built in NYC, down from the peak of 35,000 in the year before, that’s not a slow down, it’s a normal new construction fluctuation, the total 75-80% of new residential construction goes for market price, either as rentals or condos, so it’s need a time to absorb all this. And 56,000 new apartments it’s twice over than whole Coop City and Starrett City together, plus compare a quality and architectural design of new construction with 1960s apartment flats!!!

  5. What is going on with the Rizzoli site on 57th ?

  6. Nikolai Really needs to stop sucking the teats (or other appendages) of the ultra wealthy that this ‘publication’ is a voice for, and focus on data. Based on his education, and what he writes, Nikolai has a pretty myopic idea about how political structures work, and its seems solely based on (suprise suprise) building the most units at the lowest cost! As if that was how the world actually works (china has millions of empty units based on the “obvious” market rate solutions Nikolai champions.

    • YIMBY is a voice for all New Yorkers and the artificially induced housing crisis is caused by stringent zoning imposed during the time of Robert Moses and the Democrats who remain in power, who would rather existing voting blocks stay miserably intact vs. have any sort of potential for change/upwards mobility.

      • staten islander | January 7, 2017 at 7:44 am | Reply

        I don’t think Robert Moses had much to do with the 1961 Zoning. But the democrats were in power during that time. There was a lot of discussion by Mayor Wagner and local elected officials over how the city was to be rezoned. A retired realtor told me that on Staten Island Mayor Wagner basically got together with the real estate community the democratic and republican leaders and pretty much decided how the island was to be rezoned. This was 3 years before the Verrazano opened so they knew the island’s population would grow. The big mistake they made was allowing for too many neighborhoods of attached and semi-attached homes. The island’s infrastructure was not designed for that much growth. The downzonings of 2005-06 were a reaction to the years of overbuilding.

        NYC Zoning history info at the link below. Buried in there is something to the effect that R3-1 zoning was originally supposed to allow for small apartment buildings but that was dropped from the final proposal.

  7. Now hold on just a sec. As someone who covers the much duller upstate scene, the development opponents I come across tend to be from both sides of the political aisle. You have Democrats who cling to the “feel” of a place and hate anything that feels new and creates physical change, and then you have Republicans who wear their class/race prejudices on their sleeve, and wield zoning as way to purge the undesirables (heck, Saratoga passed a law last summer banning people from sitting on sidewalks, so they’d have an excuse to lock up the homeless). But I guess that unpleasant example of bipartisanship isn’t seen as much in a city as politically lopsided as New York.

    As for Cuomo and DeBlasio, well, it depends on what special interests are lining their pockets. But as Skelos and Libous showed, deceit and corruption are also bipartisan activities in the Empire State.

    Anyway, I enjoy your work. Your team reports on more in a day than many upstate metros do in a month.

  8. Just to put things in perspective. NYC has about 3 million apartments. If each one is replaced every 30 years (as is standard practice in the rest of the country), that would imply about 100k apartments per year. The city has not come anywhere near that level, even through the booms. You have to go back to the 70s to see numbers like that. At the current rate, the city is on track to have an average apartment age of approximately 150 years. Does this seem healthy? The city needs about 5x more construction than it currently has, consistently, over decades just to meet the bare minimum level of acceptable housing stock.

  9. Dear Nik-o-lie: Without all those :fancifil” infrastructure projects by those Democrats that you obviosly hate so much, all your developmental projects for the rich will eventually go for naught….
    So as the weathty build their casrles in the sky, what’s your solutions to the homeless crisis?
    Can it be seperated from the fact that this economy is not working for them?

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