Press Release

New REBNY Report Shows Increase in Citywide Construction Activity as Momentum Builds Toward Economic Recovery

REBNY Press

January 30, 2022

Significant Quarterly Boost in New Large-Scale Development and Residential Units

Industry Leaders Committed to Working with the Public Sector to Continue Making Critical Progress on Economic Activity, Housing Production and Job Creation

NEW YORK, NY – The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the City’s leading real estate trade association, today reported a sizable increase in new building filings and even more significant increases in total proposed construction square footage and new filings for residential units across New York City in Q4 2021. While much work remains to be done on the path to full recovery, these findings show that the construction and development industries are beginning to make meaningful progress on getting more projects – and larger projects – underway at a critical time for the City’s economy.

According to the latest installment of REBNY’s Quarterly Construction Pipeline Report, the total number of new building filings in Q4 2021 was 665, a 37% increase from the previous quarter and a 22% increase year-over-year. This is the largest number of new building filings in a single quarter since Q2 2016 and is 32% greater than the historical average of 503 quarterly filings since Q1 2008.

Q4 brought the total number of new building filings for the 2021 calendar year to 1,914, which represents a 10.5% increase compared to 2020 and is comparable to pre-pandemic activity in 2019.

Proposed construction square footage in Q4 2021 totaled 31.65 million square feet, a 290% increase from the previous quarter and a nearly 180% increase year-over-year. This is the largest total proposed construction square footage in a single quarter since Q3 2014 and is 173% greater than the historical average of 11.58 million square feet. This significant increase was due to the rising number of large-scale construction projects (exceeding 300,000 square feet). There were 26 new filings for large-scale projects in Q4 2021, which is also the highest such number since Q3 2014.

The total construction square footage throughout all of 2021 was approximately 54 million square feet, which represents a 26.5% increase compared to 2020 and is also greater than the annual average of 46.33 million square feet since 2008.

There were 24,834 proposed job filings for new multiple dwelling residential units in Q4 2021, more than a 300% increase from the previous quarter and a 240% increase year-over-year. This is the largest number of filings for new multiple dwelling units anytime from Q1 2008 to-date and is nearly 50% greater than the previous high in Q3 2014.

The total number of proposed multiple dwelling units throughout all of 2021 was 42,207, which is a 54% increase compared to 2020 and the highest such annual total since 2014.

This residential activity must be seen in the context of New York City’s long-term housing needs, which still far outstrip current levels of production. A recent AKRF report commissioned by REBNY found that the City must produce 560,000 new homes by 2030 just to keep pace with projected population and job growth. The report also found that the City’s current development pipeline only covers approximately 14% of overall housing needs.

“This significant quarterly increase in large-scale construction is creating good jobs and much-needed housing at a critical moment in the City’s path to full economic recovery,” said REBNY President James Whelan. “But we can’t take our eye off the ball – and we still have a long way to go toward meeting our city’s long-term needs. City and State leaders must stay focused on advancing a strong recovery and working with the private sector to continue making progress on new construction activity, job creation and housing production over the months and years to come.”

“New York’s construction and real estate industries have been nothing but resilient since the beginning of the pandemic, and this report is just the latest sign of that extraordinary resiliency – from its leadership to the hardworking men and women who make construction possible,” said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. “While this is certainly good news for New York, it’s critical that we keep focused on ensuring this positive progress continues and that the creation of middle-class careers with benefits through the construction industry remains central to the city’s economic recovery.”

“Large-scale construction has always played a vital role the city’s economy, and it is good news for all New Yorkers that more of these important projects are moving forward to create good jobs and support our recovery,” said Lou Coletti, President and CEO of the Building Trades Employers Association (BTEA). “It will be even more important for City and State government to continue working closely with leaders in real estate, construction and organized labor so we can keep building the momentum and getting even more of this job-creating activity underway throughout the five boroughs.”

“New York City’s comeback is in full swing,” said Carlo A. Scissura, President and CEO of the New York Building Congress. “The latest construction pipeline report by the Real Estate Board of New York is a strong indicator that the building industry is leading this recovery. Now, with federal dollars expected to come into the Big Apple, we can only expect these numbers to grow.” 

Download the complete Quarterly Construction Pipeline Report here.

For more information about REBNY research reports, visit go.rebny.com/Reports.