The Neighborhoods Developers Have Their Eyes on Now

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September 14, 2018
  • Long Island City, East New York and Melrose saw the city’s largest number of authorized units in the past 12 months.
  • Waiting in the wings for city approval are projects hoping to bring even more units to Long Island City, as well as Greenpoint, Jamaica and Flatbush.

New York City’s residential development boom is rippling outward, up into the Bronx, further east into Brooklyn and deeper into pockets of Queens.

While Long Island City continues its furious pace of construction and remains the No. 1 area for new units with approved permits over the past 12 months, East New York came in second. The South Bronx neighborhood of Melrose placed third, according to an analysis by Localize.city, a website that provides insights for every New York City address. Bedford-Stuyvesant, where there are a lot of lower-rise buildings under construction, and the Financial District, where a handful of large skyscrapers are in the works, were next on the list.

This analysis pinpoints the neighborhoods expected to see an uptick in new apartments starting to open in 2021 and beyond. Many of the neighborhoods on the upswing have zoning that allows for greater density and incentives to build affordable housing. Many are areas that were rezoned in the past decade from industrial use to allow for residential development.

“The Bronx is rising,” Localize.city data scientist Israel Schwartz noted. “Overall, neighborhoods in the Bronx are seeing a greater share of large-scale development than in previous years.”

The Localize.city data science team aggregated, decoded and analyzed tens of thousands of building applications for new residential buildings with four or more units residential from the NYC Department of Buildings’ database from January 1, 2010 to July 1, 2018.

These are the top 20 neighborhoods for approved units within the past 12 months (July 1, 2017 – July 1, 2018)

Long Island City:    1,436

East New York:       1,200

Melrose:                  1,027

Bed-Stuy:               848

Financial District: 813

Mott Haven:           733

East Harlem:          732

Crotona Park East: 731

East Tremont:        705

Williamsburg:        677

Bushwick:               606

Longwood:             560

Lower East Side:    541

Bedford Park:         470

Flushing:                 454

Coney Island:        452

Crown Heights:     428

Tremont:                417

Central Harlem:     414

Hudson Square:     402

Seven of the top 20 neighborhoods on the list are in the Bronx; six are in Brooklyn, five in Manhattan and two in Queens.

Long Island City still tops the boroughs for most new authorized units. Development in Long Island City has been high for the past five years, skyrocketing in 2015, as developers rushed to get their projects in before the expiration of the state’s 421-a tax break. The neighborhood then saw a dip in the number of authorized units, but projects are underway once again. The number of units authorized in the first half the year (1,060) exceeded the number of units authorized in the previous two years combined (851). These numbers, however, are dwarfed by the number of units authorized in 2015 (8,116). Still, the area appears to be undergoing another construction cycle as the city  has bolstered neighborhood infrastructure with new parks, ferries and other amenities. Three new schools are in the works as well, but even these schools may not meet the increased demands as thousands of new families move in.

East New York is No. 2 for authorized permits over the past 12 months. It is perhaps not surprising given the 2016 rezoning to spur development. The Brooklyn neighborhood was the first to be rezoned under the de Blasio administration’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, which allows for larger residential development while requiring a certain amount of affordable housing. The neighborhood is expected to see other changes including a new 1,000-seat K-through-8 school, a new community center, park renovations and street safety improvements at dangerous intersections. But the rezoning had its share of controversy. Many longtime residents expressed concerns about displacement. Locals worry that even rents for new “affordable” housing will not actually be affordable for many families already living there.

In Melrose, the No. 3 neighborhood, advocacy groups like Nos Quedamos/We Stay have long been fighting for better housing. Now, vacant spots in the once burned-out area are being dramatically transformed into affordable housing developments with new neighborhood amenities. The multi-phase La Central development, for instance, is bringing nearly 1,000 units, a YMCA, and a rooftop farm. A new one-acre park is expected to open next year, a long-awaited segment of the Melrose Commons area. It’s part of the larger transformation happening in Melrose and the nearby Mott Haven (No. 6 on the list), which was rezoned in 2009 from industrial to residential uses. A Hip Hop museum, along with educational programming from local organizations like the Bronx Children’s Museum and BronxWorks, are expected to come to the South Bronx waterfront by 2022, and Melrose is slated to get a new LGBT center to further provide safe spaces for the Bronx LGBT community.

Bronx is ascendant

All of the neighborhoods Localize.city identified as seeing the biggest uptick in permits this year — in addition to East New York — were in the Bronx. Bedford Park, for example, saw more permits filed in the first half of this year than in all of 2017.

From 2010 through 2015 (including 2015), about 13 percent of the city’s approved residential units, on average, were in the Bronx. Drilling down further in this time frame, in 2014 and 2015, only about 8 percent of the approved units were in the Bronx. However, since 2016, the borough saw its share of construction bloom. The number of approved units in the borough jumped to more than 23 percent in 2016; in 2017, the Bronx had 24 percent of the approved new units; and in the first half of 2018, it had 27 percent of the approved new units.

“Here’s another way to look at the shifts: over the last 2.5 years, about 12,000 units were approved in the Bronx, which is roughly the same as in Manhattan,” Schwartz said. “For reference, in the six years between 2010 through 2015, Manhattan had almost triple the number of approved units: 38,580 compared to the Bronx’s 13,438.”

This construction surge in the Bronx, Schwartz added, is bringing a greater share of buildings that are typically 10 – 15 stories high compared to other outer boroughs.

“Roughly 20 percent of the authorized buildings in the Bronx over the past 2.5 years are 10 stories high or more,” Schwartz said. “During the same time frame, only about 10 percent of the approved buildings in Queens were 10 or more stories, and in Brooklyn, only 3 percent were.”

Overall, 53 percent of the Bronx’s authorized units (6,427) will be in buildings that are 10 or more stories, while 50 percent of Queens’ (4,069 units) will be and 23 percent of Brooklyn’s (3,828 units) will be. Generally though, the buildings in Queens and Brooklyn with 10 or more stories are much taller than those in the Bronx. In Queens about 60 percent of these are taller than 15 stories, and in Brooklyn, 40 percent are.

Top 20 neighborhoods for units in terms of permits filed but not yet approved

Long Island City:       2,597

Greenpoint:                1,493

Jamaica:                       1,245

Flatbush:                     1,131

Astoria:                       1,014

Far Rockaway:           1,012

Bed-Stuy:                   945

Williamsburg:           923

East Harlem:             921

Downtown Brooklyn:  912

Crown Heights:        785

Hell’s Kitchen:          780

Mott Haven:             777

Forest Hills:              742

Dumbo:                     737

Central Harlem:      726

East New York:        682

Coney Island:          672

Bushwick:                663

Soundview:             622

These are at the top 20 neighborhoods where jobs were filed but have yet to receive permits. These projects are not yet under construction and may be delayed for an indeterminate amount of time. But these numbers indicate that activity is brewing in these neighborhoods.

Several Brooklyn areas appear to be back on the upswing. Ten of the neighborhoods on this list are in Brooklyn. Five are in Queens, including four in the top 10: Long Island City, Jamaica, Astoria and Far Rockaway. Manhattan had three neighborhoods (East Harlem, Central Harlem and Hell’s Kitchen), while the Bronx only had two (Mott Haven and Soundview).

We looked at this list as well as historical data — including the top neighborhoods with approved permits in the spike of 2015.  Analyzing these trends, we found that some neighborhoods seeing a downward trend now appear poised for another wave of development.

Again, Long Island City is No.1, illustrating that developers still see potential in the market there.

Greenpoint is in the No. 2 spot. The neighborhood — sandwiched between the booming areas of Williamsburg and Long Island City — had the third highest number of units permitted in 2015 and is now seeing the fruits of those permits coming to fruition, with the opening of parts of Greenpoint Landing and its new waterfront park. After the 2015 flurry of permits, the neighborhood subsequently saw a significant drop in new units being authorized. But as the area is transforming with Greenpoint Landing, as well as improved transit (with ferry service, improved G train service and Citi Bike), the neighborhood appears to be getting another wave of construction. Potential projects include a 40-story tower with 470 units at 18 India St., next to the ferry pier. Another big development, planned by Halcyon Management Group and the New York camera store B&H Photo Video, is expected to bring three towers to the waterfront around Quay, Oak and West street, including a 33-story tower with 410 units.

Next on the list are Jamaica, Astoria and Flatbush. Astoria and Flatbush also had big bursts of authorized units in 2015 (Nos. 9 and 11, respectively that year). Now that the new version of 421-a is in place, these areas are again on developers’ radar.

Jamaica’s boom was smaller. (It was No. 18 citywide in 2015). Now, a decade after the city rezoned Jamaica, the area appears poised for new construction, including a planned 24-story, 522-unit building at 147-25 94th Ave., and a 23-story, 387-unit building at 92-93 168th St. Much of the new construction is centered near the bustling Jamaica Station transit hub. A new platform at Jamaica Station is expected to finish in 2019 and ease train bottlenecks at peak hours. The Parsons Boulevard F train is likely to be renovated (though the station may have to be closed for up to a year). And office space and hotel development is on the rise, too, strengthening the area as a regional center.

Additionally, Mott Haven has two of the top 10 largest developments in the potential pipeline.  A 14-story tower with 300 units (and a pet spa and co-working space) is planned for 445 Gerard Ave, and a 26-story, 277-unit ultra-energy efficient building is planned for 425 Grand Concourse.

‘Darkhorse’ Neighborhoods

A few neighborhoods that haven’t seen an abundance of new development, relative to other areas, but have some potential projects in the works include Far Rockaway, Forest Hills and Dumbo. A mega-development is planned for Far Rockaway where affordable housing developer Phipps Houses is expected to construct a mixed-use development with three buildings, ranging from 15 to 12 stories, each with roughly 230 units to replace the derelict Far Rockaway Shopping Center. In Forest Hills, at 62-27 108th St., Phipps Houses has plans to replace a co-op, formerly owned by NYCHA, with a 17-story, 183-unit building, along with two 13-story buildings, one with 144 units and the other with 115. Planned projects in Dumbo include, a 21-story 732-unit building at 85 Jay St., formerly owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Top 20 neighborhoods for units approved in 2015 during 421-a push, for more context/comparison’s sake.

(Note that this year, only one Bronx neighborhood was in the top 20, which makes sense since it was the 421-a related projects that were booming this year, and many Bronx projects likely use other incentives.)

Long Island City:    8,116

Williamsburg:         5,080

Greenpoint:             2,933

Bushwick:                 2,922

Downtown Brooklyn:  2,845

Bedford-Stuyvesant:    2,711

Hell’s Kitchen:         2,063

Crown Heights:       2,017

Astoria:                     1,912

Lower East Side:    1,739

Flatbush:                 1,608

Financial District:  1,444

Hudson Yards:        1,369

Chelsea:                   1,335

East Harlem:           1,335

Prospect Heights:   918

Flushing:                  885

Jamaica:                   846

East Tremont:        838

Clinton Hill:           814

Tracking NYC’s Development Cycles

Top 20 neighborhoods for authorized permits in 2015

Top 20 neighborhoods for authorized permits in past 12 months

Top 20 neighborhoods for filed, but not authorized permits

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