The Fate of New Constuction Will the Cranes Return?

It seems like only yesterday when “condo-mania” was sweeping many neighborhoods, and developers couldn’t wait to build one condo development after another. Every other week or so, another open house was held, and developers competed to advertise their buildings’ attractive features, from childrens' rec rooms to free parking spaces to fully decked-out gyms.

But 2009 will always be known as the year that the economic recession became a full-blown disaster, with a record number of spectacular failings and near-failings in the financial industry. In the world of real estate, the downturn began even earlier, with the mortgage crisis. Many economists are predicting an upturn (however slight) this year, but most agree that it’s still too soon to know.

The economic storm has had a profound effect on residential development in New York City. Some new buildings are being completed, but plans for countless others have been scotched, or are standing half-completed in muddy construction pits. Other buildings that were only recently completed before the crash are having serious trouble selling apartments.

Not a Ghost Town

This is not to say that new development has come to a complete standstill, of course. For example, L&M Development Partners is expected to finish work on the Columbia-Hicks mixed-income development in Brooklyn this year, which includes both for-sale and rental units. Another one of the firm’s developments that is scheduled to open this year is 540 West 28th Street, also known as +Art, a luxury condo development in Manhattan's West Chelsea gallery district. Perhaps the firm’s most innovative development is P.S. 90 in Harlem, which we will describe in detail later. And in Brooklyn again, BFC Partners has completed the Toren affordable condo development, which is now ready for occupancy.

In an article in January in The Real Deal, writer David Jones mentioned that The Related Companies restarted construction in the fall on a high-rise at 440 West 42nd Street, which will include condos, rentals, a hotel and a theater. An article in The Real Deal also mentioned that a joint venture between the Durst Organization and Sidney Fetner Associates closed a deal in September to buy a 16-story building from Mt. Sinai Hospital and convert it into condos; and that developer Young Woo acquired two Downtown office towers at 70 Pine Street and 72 Wall Street with the intention of converting them into condos as well.


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