Queens building boom slows: Lowest development permits issued since 2016

Flushing-Willets Point accounted for the largest share of permitted units in Queens and New York City as a whole, despite the fact that the borough as a whole experienced a significant decrease from 2022 to 2023, according to a report by the New York City Department of City Planning.
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Queens residents can expect a slowdown in the amount of new development in the coming years.

The number of building permits issued in Queens in 2023 was the lowest since 2016, with developers obtaining 3,834 permits in the borough last year, according to a report by the New York City Department of City Planning.

Queens was not alone in experiencing a slowdown in the number of permits issued. Across the five boroughs, it was the slowest year since 2016, with 16,359 building permits issued. Typically, 80 to 90 percent of permitted projects are completed within four years.

Experts say the slowdown can be attributed in part to the June 15, 2022, expiration of the 421-a tax benefit, which had provided many developers of large-scale buildings with property tax breaks. For instance, the number of permits issued in 2022 reached an historic high as developers attempted to qualify for it before it expired.

The last time the 421-a tax benefit lapsed was in 2016, leading to a slowdown that year.

In 2023, more building permits were issued in Brooklyn than in any other borough, with Brooklyn accounting for 32% of all permits. Developers in the Bronx, a much smaller borough than Queens, racked up 29% of the new permits issued, with Queens accounting for 23% of them, Manhattan 12% and Staten Island 3%.

The Queens permits were also concentrated in the Flushing-Willets Point area. The neighborhood accounted for the largest share of permitted units in new buildings among all New York City neighborhoods, with 1,136. That number was significantly more than second-place Inwood in Manhattan, which had just 691.

The Metropolitan Park plan in Willets Point has played a key role in the large total within the Flushing-Willets Point neighborhood. Of the 1,136 permitted units in new buildings there, 881 are for the planned development.

While the reduction in permits issued in 2023 does not mean that building will slow down dramatically anytime soon. Many buildings where permits were issued in 2022 and earlier have yet to be completed and are still part of the pipeline of new development.

For instance, at the end of 2023, Queens had 23,677 units in the pipeline based on the number of building permits issued–with construction still to be completed. The borough trailed Brooklyn that had 45,148 units in the pipeline at the end of last year.

Four of the 10 New York City neighborhoods with the most housing units in the pipeline at the end of 2023 were in Queens. Long Island CityHunters Point ranked second with 6,103, Jamaica was fourth with 3,525, Flushing-Willets Point ended up in seventh with 2,737 and QueensbridgeRavenswoodDutch Kills ranked ninth with 2,073.

The number of completed buildings in 2023 did increase in 2023 compared to 2022.

In 2023, New York City saw 27,980 units completed, up from 25,919 in 2022. Despite the overall increase, Queens ended up experiencing a dip in completed units, dropping from 7,319 in 2022 to 4,646 in 2023.

Two Queens neighborhoods ranked among the top 10 for most units completed in 2023. Old Astoria-Hallets Point ranked seventh with 562 and Woodside ranked ninth with 519.