New York City construction activity in 2020 hits 8-year low


The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) reported that total construction activity in 2020 was the city’s lowest in nearly a decade.

Citywide new building filings in 2020 represented a proposed 42.67 million construction square feet, which is an approximately 28% decline compared to proposed construction square footage in 2019 and the lowest total since 2012, according to REBNY’s Q4 2020 New Building Construction Pipeline Report.

renby project application filings

The proposed square footage associated with major construction projects in New York City (those greater than 300,000 square feet) also hit their lowest point since 2012, with a total of 11.6 million square feet – representing an approximately 35% decline compared to 2019. Additionally, there were only 27,402 residential units proposed for construction in 2020 – representing an approximately 17% decline compared to 2019.

“After a historically challenging year, jumpstarting the construction and development industries will play a vital role in New York City’s economic recovery. 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.” REBNY president James Whelan said in a statement.

NYC-area buildings market declines by about 25% in 2020 – Dodge

The RENBY report examines the new building job application filings submitted to the NYC Department of Buildings. The report also highlighted some recent infrastructure and construction plans put forth by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and President Joe Biden.

Gov. Cuomo recently laid out a $306 billion infrastructure plan as part of his State of the State Address. He also unveiled a new development proposal to enable the conversion of underutilized commercial space to residential use as part of his State of the State plans. Biden administration officials have stated that the president plans to work with congress next month to pursue significant federal infrastructure legislation.


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