We’ve been worried about a double dip (or a single-dip, unending collapse, depending on your perspective) for the past few months now. As Department of Buildings permits continued to decline for the fifth straight year in 2010, things don’t look promising for 2011. But with that kind of attitude, we’ll never get out of the recession. In an interview with The Times, DOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri says you have to look for the silver lining where you can, and before we know it, the worst will be over:
It’s in pockets. Permits for new buildings and major alterations fell around 19 percent last year, to 13,000 from 16,000. But permits for small-scale alterations – like moving a wall – rose 6 percent, to nearly 103,000. People are still doing smaller work, and that drives the economy as well.
We’re starting to see pockets of demolitions. We just had seven or eight sites in the last couple of weeks. When you see demolitions come back, it’s a leading indicator that development is coming.
Also, in Manhattan there are four or five large sites, where maybe they slowed construction, that are starting to pick up. It’s the heart of the winter so it’s going to be slow anyway, but we’re hoping that the spring will bring a set of new buildings.
So people are working with what they’ve got. As LiMandri said, it’s better than nothing, and the recovery has to start somewhere. If the snow ever stops and the ice thaws, maybe we can get back to building.