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Understand New York's Current Building Boom in 6 Charts

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It may seem like new buildings are going up at a breakneck pace in New York City, but a new report from the Furman Center shows that development is still way below pre-crash levels. The State of New York City's Housing and Neighborhoods in 2014 looks at housing, land use, demographics, and quality of life indicators in all five boroughs, and the built environment section puts the current perceived building boom into perspective.

The graph above shows new building permits approved by the Department of Buildings. After completely bottoming out in 2010, approvals have picked up significantly, but there's still a lot less activity than during the pre-crash peak in 2008. During that year, the DOB approved nearly 33,000 new housing units, while last year, it was closer to 21,000. That said, the number of larger buildings is greater than ever before. "Of all the new units authorized by building permits issued in 2014, 72 percent were in projects with 50 or more units."

From 2009 to 2011, there was a bit of a catch-up period, in which new building all but stopped while buildings under construction were completed. The DOB issued far more certificates of occupancy during this period. Things started to even out in 2012, and last year, the ratio of new permits vs. COs was comparable to pre-peak levels. The report found that 21,478 new residential units were authorized last year, which is a 22 percent increase from 2013, but only 10,113 units were given COs—a 12 percent drop. In other words, construction is not keeping up with demand.

The number of affordable housing units approved last year was the second highest since 1988, coming in only below the 2008 peak.

And while it seems like condos are popping up all over the place, most new buildings are large rentals. According to the report, "In 2014, 74 percent of all new residential units were in predominantly rental buildings with five or more units; only 16 percent of new units were in condominiums." During the 2008 peak, 51 percent of new residential units were condos and just 30 percent were rentals.

Changes in land use classifications do show that condos are proliferating. From 2003 to 2013, the square footage of land used for condos jumped more than 73 percent. The square footage of rental buildings with five or more units only went up 2.4 percent, but that's because New York was already packed with these buildings; they up some 621,113,017 square feet of real estate, wile condos occupy 59,883,098 square feet.

The report confirms that most development is taking place in Manhattan and Brooklyn, with the latter seeing the greatest concentration. North and central Brooklyn are heavy with spots (pox?), which makes sense since Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, and Downtown Brooklyn are some of the hottest neighborhoods in the city.
· State of the City's Housing & Neighborhoods 2014 [Furman Center]