Building Permits Fall Dramatically

The demise of the controversial 421-a tax break hasn’t eliminated interest in residential building in the city, but it has reduced it to a level not seen since the financial crisis.

That’s the bottom line on this week’s release of the latest building-permits data by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Here are the numbers through July:

Borough July Year to Date
Bronx 409 2,335
Brooklyn 247 1,913
Manhattan 291 1,094
Queens 211 1,433
Staten Island 43 664
Total 1,201 7,439

If permits continue at this pace, developers will seek just under 13,000 permits this year, about the same number as in 2012.

One explanation, of course, is that builders accelerated their plans last year to make sure they qualified for the tax break, which expired Dec. 31. The 2015 total of just over 56,000 permits topped the most recent peak, in 2008, by more than 20,000 and was the highest since 1962.

The problem is that New York City’s growing population, now more than 8.5 million, requires more housing, and a lot of it. The Real Estate Board says the minimum we need is at least 20,000 new units a year. If prices and rent increases are going to be moderated, the number is almost certainly much higher.

By Greg David [Crains]

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