Most of the leading U.S. metropolitan areas for commercial and multifamily construction starts showed substantial gains in 2016 compared to the previous year, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. However, New York City, the top metropolitan market by dollar amount, pulled back 15% to $29.8 billion following its 67% surge to $35.2 billion in 2015.
Eight of the next nine metropolitan areas in the top 10 were able to register double-digit gains during 2016. For the top 20 metropolitan areas, 16 were able to show double-digit gains compared to 2015. At the U.S. level, commercial and multifamily construction starts in 2016 were reported at $186.3 billion, up 7% from 2015.
The commercial and multifamily total is comprised of office buildings, stores, hotels, warehouses, commercial garages, and multifamily housing.
The 15% commercial and multifamily decline for the New York metropolitan area in 2016 was due to the 28% slide by multifamily housing after its 53% hike in 2015. At the same time, the commercial building categories as a group grew an additional 4% in 2016, which followed a 95% surge in 2015.
Multifamily housing in New York City had been supported by the 421-a program, which provided tax incentives to developers who included affordable housing in their developments. During 2015, the pending expiration of the 421-a program contributed to developers moving up the start date for projects, while the expiration of the program in January 2016 removed the incentives.
(In late 2016, an agreement was reached to renew the 421-a program, which still awaits the approval by the New York State legislature.)
The New York metropolitan area in 2015 had featured 44 multifamily projects valued each at $100 million or more, including five at $500 million or more, led by the $575 million 15 Hudson Yards apartment building. In 2016, the number of multifamily projects valued at $100 million or more was 38, still substantial yet smaller than what took place 2015, and there were no projects in the $500 million plus range.
The top three multifamily projects in 2016 were the following – the $453 multifamily portion of a $475 million high-rise in Jersey City NJ, a $407 million multifamily high-rise on Manhattan’s East Side, and the $345 million multifamily portion of a $500 million high-rise near the Hudson River in lower Manhattan.
For the commercial building categories in the New York metropolitan area, new office building starts retreated a slight 2% in 2016, staying very close to the robust dollar amount (up 138%) that was reported in 2015 which included the $1.9 billion office portion of the $2.5 billion 30 Hudson Yards office/retail project.
The top office projects in 2016 were the $2.0 billion 3 Hudson Boulevard on Manhattan’s West Side, the $1.5 billion One Vanderbilt Tower near Grand Central Terminal, and the $682 million office portion of the $700 million Gotham Center in Long Island City.
Hotel construction climbed 60%, helped by the start of the $205 million Marriott Moxy Hotel in Times Square, and warehouse construction advanced 55% with the lift coming from a $304 million warehouse on Staten Island and a $200 million warehouse in Cranbury NJ. Commercial garage starts increased 27% in 2016, but store construction starts dropped 28%.
Rounding out the top five metropolitan areas in 2016, with their percent change from 2015, were the following – Los Angeles CA, $9.8 billion, up 44%; Chicago IL, $8.3 billion, up 34%; Washington DC, $8.1 billion, up 35%; and Dallas-Ft. Worth TX, $8.0 billion, up 16%. Metropolitan areas ranked 6 through 10 were – Miami FL, $7.5 billion, up 14%; Boston MA, $7.1 billion, up 50%; San Francisco CA, $5.0 billion, up 96%; Atlanta GA, $4.8 billion, up 60%; and Seattle WA, $4.3 billion, down 4%.
At the U.S. level, the 7% increase for the commercial and multifamily total in 2016 was the result of an 11% advance for commercial building and a 3% gain for multifamily housing. Compared to its 7% rise in 2015, commercial building at the U.S. level was able to pick up the pace in 2016, while multifamily housing witnessed substantially slower growth compared to its 22% jump in 2015. A primary reason for the smaller 2016 increase for multifamily housing at the U.S. level was a downturn by multifamily construction starts in the New York NY metropolitan area, which retreated 28% following its exceptionally strong amount in 2015. Excluding the New York NY metropolitan area, multifamily housing for the nation in 2016 would be up 13%, about the same as the corresponding 14% increase in 2015.
“What stands out about 2016 is that growth for commercial and multifamily construction starts became broader geographically,” stated Robert A. Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics. “Back in 2015, the New York NY metropolitan area led the upturn by soaring 67%, while the next 9 markets combined grew 8%. In 2016, the 15% downturn in the New York NY market was countered by a 33% hike for the next 9 markets. As a result, the New York NY share of the U.S. total for commercial and multifamily construction starts settled back from 20% in 2015 to 16% in 2016, which was still relatively high compared to the 13% share during the 2010-2014 period.”
“Both commercial building and multifamily housing have benefitted from a number of positive factors in recent years,” Murray said. “These included declining vacancies, rising rents, low interest rates, and some easing of bank lending standards for commercial real estate loans. That supportive environment began to shift during 2016, with vacancies leveling off, interest rates edging up at year’s end, and bank lending standards for commercial real estate loans beginning to tighten, especially for multifamily projects.
“Yet, aside from multifamily housing, the levels of construction remain generally low given the hesitant nature of the upturn to date, meaning there’s yet to be any widespread signs of overbuilding that typically show up five years into an expansion. While market fundamentals may not be quite as supportive in 2017, it’s still expected that commercial building will be able to register moderate growth, led by offices and warehouses.
“As for multifamily housing, the geographically broader participation by metropolitan area that emerged during 2016 is expected to continue this year, which should help the national total stay close to the elevated activity reported during 2015 and 2016. Other factors that could affect commercial and multifamily construction starts in 2017 would be two items proposed by the Trump Administration – the reduction in business tax rates to spur investment and the easing of the Dodd-Frank regulations on the banking sector.”
The Los Angeles CA metropolitan area in 2016 registered a 44% increase, moving up to the nation’s second largest market for commercial and multifamily construction starts after ranking number three in 2015. Multifamily housing in 2016 soared 50% while commercial building advanced 36%. There were 14 multifamily projects valued at $100 million or more that reached groundbreaking in 2016, compared to 10 such projects in 2015. The three largest multifamily projects in 2016 were the $493 million multifamily portion of the $600 million Century Plaza mixed-use complex in Century City, the $344 million multifamily portion of the $375 million 1120 South Grand Avenue mixed-use building in Los Angeles, and the $275 million multifamily portion of the $300 million Omni mixed-use building in Los Angeles. Substantial percentage growth was reported for offices, up 67%, with the lift coming from the $178 million office portion of the $390 million Broadcom Research and Development Campus in Irvine. Hotel construction starts were also up considerably, rising 77%, with the lift coming from the $93 million hotel portion of the $135 million Edition hotel and condominiums in West Hollywood. Commercial garages increased 42% in 2016, while warehouses grew 9%. Store construction improved 7% on top of its 96% advance in 2015, boosted by the $500 million renovation of the Beverly Center in Los Angeles.
The 34% increase for Chicago IL in 2016 enabled this metropolitan area to move up to the nation’s third largest market for commercial and multifamily construction starts, after ranking number 5 in 2015. Multifamily housing jumped 82% in 2016 while commercial building held steady with its 2015 amount. The multifamily gain reflected two very large projects – the $780 million multifamily portion of the $900 million Wanda Vista Tower and the $500 million One Bennett Park Tower. There were 10 multifamily projects valued at $100 million or more that reached groundbreaking in 2016, compared to 5 such projects in 2015. Office construction grew 22% in 2016, aided by the start of a $255 million data center in Aurora IL plus two Chicago projects – the $250 million McDonalds headquarters and the $225 million CNA Financial headquarters. Warehouse construction increased 63%, boosted by the start of the $95 million M&M/Mars Wrigley Distribution Center in Joliet IL. On the negative side, declines in 2016 were reported for hotels, down 45%; commercial garages, down 34%; and stores, down 3%.
The Washington DC metropolitan area climbed 35% in 2016, with commercial building up 56% and multifamily housing up 20%. Much of the lift for commercial building came from an 87% jump for office construction, which featured 7 projects valued at $100 million or more, led by the $300 million 655 New York Avenue office building. the $220 million Four Constitution Square office building, and the $200 million addition to the Fannie Mae office building. The hotel category advanced 113%, helped by the $140 million CityCenter DC Conrad Hotel (phase 2) and the $106 million hotel portion of the $230 million Columbia Place hotel/multifamily complex. Garage construction rose 44% in 2016, but construction start declines were reported for stores, down 14%; and warehouses, down 41%. The 20% increase for multifamily housing featured 9 projects valued at $100 million or more, including $263 million for phase 1 of The Boro at Tysons in Tysons Corner VA and the $228 million Eisenhower East apartment development in Alexandria VA.
After soaring 56% in 2015, the Dallas-Ft. Worth TX metropolitan area registered an additional 16% gain for commercial and multifamily construction starts in 2016, with commercial building up 13% and multifamily housing up 22%. Office construction increased 31%, reflecting $293 million for the office portion of the $500 million Toyota Corporate Campus project in Plano, $194 million for the office portion of the $300 million JP Morgan Chase operations center in Plano, and $133 million for the office portion of a $300 million mixed-use development in Dallas. Hotel construction climbed 33%, helped by the $85 million Texas Live! convention center hotel, while garage construction advanced 37% with $106 million for the garage portion of the JP Morgan Chase operations center and $87 million for the garage portion of the Toyota Corporate Campus project. Store construction starts grew a moderate 6% in 2016, but warehouse starts fell 34%. As for multifamily housing, there were 5 projects valued at $100 million or more that reached groundbreaking in 2016, including the $160 million multifamily portion of the $240 million Drever mixed-use project in Dallas.