Harvard can't, but others can

At the June 10 CWP meeting, the rationale that Harvard presented for not being willing to develop more housing on its vacant land in the Holton Street Corridor was that the economy is just too bad to build any of the couple hundred units that could be built there. No details were given about how much, or in what ways, the economy would need to improve to allow this construction.

So I found it interesting a few days later when a few days later the Census Bureau and HUD issued this press release about new residential housing construction. The rate of new housing construction is of course much less than it was a year ago, but it is also far from zero. Somehow these other developers are figuring out how to move forward with new housing in the present economy, and apparently Harvard could learn something from them.

Here is the data for building permits issued during the month of May for the greater Boston metropolitan area.
Total 1 Unit 2 Units 3 & 4 Units 5 units or more # of structures with 5 units or more
New Privately Owned Housing Units Authorized 472 233 24 14 201 16
New Privately Owned Housing Units Authorized Valuation (in millions) $96.5 $58.3 $3.6 $2.8 $31.7

Taking a broader view, in the Northeastern US during May there were:
  • Building permits issued for 56,000 privately-owned housing units
  • 13,000 privately-owned housing units authorized, but not started
  • 51,000 units that began construction
  • 138,000 units under construction
  • 93,000 units completed

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