New York City Residential Construction Sluggish in Recovery

For a city famous for high cost of living, incredible demand for housing, famous examples of gentrification, and political pressure to build, New York City is lagging behind the volumes of residential construction approved in comparable cities.

1 minute read

August 12, 2014, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


According to an article by Laura Kusisto and Eliot Brown, "the number of units authorized in New York City through building permits remains well below levels before the market crashed in late 2008, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures."

"In New York, permits for 17,995 new housing units were issued in 2013, slightly more than half the nearly 34,000 units authorized in 2008 and below the number approved for 2002."

Kusisto and Brown cite San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C., and Seattle as cities that are issuing permits at pre-crash levels—San Francisco, in fact, issued almost twice as many permits in 2013 as it did in 2005.

The explanation for the sluggish building industry, according to real-estate analysts and developers mentioned in the article: "a combination of factors they say have made New York an increasingly inhospitable place to build housing."

Stephen Miller, writing for New York YIMBY, provides a different explanation than the traditional arguments of "high land costs, high construction costs, overuse of landmarking." Instead, Miller suggests we look " far beyond the gentrifying fringe" for the real cause of New York's tepid rebound. "Put simply," writes Miller, "New York City’s small builders have been nearly eradicated. The segment of the market that normally produces about half the city’s new building stock has all but vanished."

Monday, August 11, 2014 in The Wall Street Journal

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