Inside NYC’s Multifamily Climate & Trends

Jodi Stasse, senior managing director of new developments for Citi Habitats and Corcoran Sunshine, discusses how the political climate has affected the area's development, and what investors should be looking for in the future.

jodi ann stasse croppedJodi Stasse, senior managing director of New Developments for Citi Habitats and Corcoran Sunshine, works on projects from Brooklyn to Long Island City to Roosevelt Island and of course Manhattan, in what she calls “the most diverse portfolio of new developments” in the metro area.

“We approach each asset—whether it be rental, condominium, existing housing stock, big or small—with the same level of commitment to maximize the property for its best and highest use,” she said.

Her portfolio of current projects includes 550 Vanderbilt (278 condos in the Pacific Park community in Downtown Brooklyn), The Greenpoint (a 463-unit rental/condo hybrid), The American Copper Buildings at 626 First Ave. (761 rentals), 685 First Ave. (556 units split between rentals and condos) and 21 West End Ave. (616 rentals).

She recently took time to talk to MHN about the state of the multifamily market in New York.

MHN: How would you characterize the state of multifamily development in your region through the first half of 2017?

Stasse: The rental market continues to lead the way. It’s an area for ongoing growth across all price ranges and neighborhoods. Some locations that were considered marginal in years past have shown surprising strength in terms of market depth and growth. Developers are satisfying the continued demand by building in areas that are seeing luxury rental product for the first time. For example, Queens Plaza in Long Island City was at one time not considered for residential opportunities, but in the last 10 years, has experienced an explosion of growth. 

MHN: How has the political climate impacted the sector? 

Stasse: Directly after the election, there was a period of cautious optimism—with the hope that the new leadership in D.C. would provide a very positive business and development environment. Though that optimism has not changed, it is now tinged with a bit more of the caution we experienced prior to the presidential race. 

MHN: What trends are you seeing in new developments? 

Stasse: With increased competition, quality matters more than ever—and that goes beyond just the materials. The quality of the location and how the building relates to the neighborhood. The quality of the design both inside and out. The quality of services and amenities. The quality of management and the overall lifestyle the building offers… All of these experiences combined matter, and prospects are comparison-shopping like never before. Bigger is not always better, but a focus on detail and quality construction will win the sale every time. Developers don’t need to compete to check all the boxes. Instead, they should check the ones that matter and then do it better than everyone else.

MHN: How would you characterize the need for more transit-oriented developments?

Stasse: The New York City metro area, by design, is a very transit-oriented region. In Manhattan, and in the dense neighborhoods of the outer boroughs, we have noticed that the need to be literally on top of a subway station is not as important a deciding factor as it may have been years ago. The introduction of Citi Bike, new ferry routes and ride-sharing services, coupled with the public’s increased willingness to “walk a few blocks,” has encouraged developers to look at locations that 10 years ago would not be on their radar. Great examples are Manhattan’s far East and West Sides, as well as Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Subway service in these communities continue to require improvements, yet new developments in these areas are performing exceptionally well. 

MHN: What do you feel is the most important thing that investors need to be aware of in today’s multifamily environment? 

Stasse: Be prepared and do your homework. While it’s a safe bet that New York City real estate prices will continue to rise over time, investors need to understand the sub-market they are considering and how that particular segment is performing. With new developments still rising at a swift pace, there is plenty of competition out there. Unavoidable factors such as labor and construction costs and weather related delays can have a real impact on how an asset will ultimately perform, so it’s important to plan accordingly.