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Bronx construction starts on pace to break $2B for third year in a row

A rising tide a lifts all ships and the rushing current of capital flowing into New York has once again buoyed development in the city’s most cash-strapped borough.

For the third year in a row, the Bronx is on pace to see north of $2 billion in construction starts, according to a report from the New York Building Congress, with more than half of that going into the housing market.

“The Bronx is experiencing positive momentum and is benefiting from continued strong investment from both the public and private sectors,” Building Congress President and CEO Carlo Scissura said. “With the value of annual construction starts more than doubling since the beginning of this decade, it’s obvious that the development community now views the Bronx in a whole new light. And I would be surprised if that percentage doesn’t continue to rise in the coming years.”

Through the first three quarters of 2017, the Bronx saw $1.65 billion in construction starts, putting it on track to meet or exceed the $2.27 billion started last year as well as the $2.18 billion built in 2015, according to the report.

Nearly $875 million worth of residential construction began in the Bronx during the first three quarters of 2017, roughly triple the value of public works projects that broke ground there during that same time period and more than four times the value of the commercial projects in the borough.

In total, construction commenced on 3,190 residential units by the end of September, accounting for 17 percent of the housing starts in the city and threatening to surpass 2015, when 4,240 units were initiated, as the busiest year for the Bronx residential construction this decade. The biggest start of the year was a $133 million, 12-story mixed-use building with 305 apartments at 443 East 162nd Street in Melrose, which is being spearheaded by the city’s Housing Preservation and Development department.

Through nine months of 2017, the Bronx also saw 5,789 affordable units rehabilitated, preserved or started. Among the crop newly built units, nearly half were affordable.

With more than $300 million worth of projects commencing, the public works sector also remained strong with a headlining start on the state’s $232 million Unionport Bridge replacement. Also, the institutional sector, despite a pace that seems somewhat lackluster compared to recent years, also saw its fair share of action with projects at PS 46, PS 14 and PS 19 all topping $50 million.

Overall, Bronx projects accounted for 5.3 percent of the city’s total starts during the first three quarters of 2017, a slice of the pie that is identical to 2015 and nearly two points shy of 2016, when the borough accounted for 7.1 percent. Since 2010, the Bronx’s share of construction investment has hovered primarily between 5 and 9 percent.

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