Construction of College Buildings Is Booming and New York City Is Reaping the Benefits

Spending on higher-education construction in New York City will top $2 billion this year and will continue near that level for the next three years, according to a new survey by a building industry trade group.


The report, underwritten by some of the city’s biggest universities, says New York—with 105 institutions of higher learning—has the largest population of college and university students in the country.


Education was a bright spot in the city even as private-sector construction languished through much of the downturn, when there was little demand for new offices or apartment buildings.


Frank Sciame, chief executive of Sciame Construction, said his company is doing a half-billion dollars of post-secondary construction work, about twice as much as before the recession. In 2006, he said, the firm was more focused on hotels and condos.


“It’s become a nice part of our workload,” Mr. Sciame said of the higher education market.


The strength of the city’s postsecondary institutions has helped attract new companies and diversify the city’s economy so it doesn’t rely so heavily on the financial industry.


“The residential market is increasing, but not this much,” said Richard Anderson, president of the New York Building Congress, the trade group that issued the report. “Cultural facilities are doing well, but not quite as well. Higher-education may be the largest individual sector in the city doing this much construction.”


The report, underwritten partly by New York University, the City University of New York and Columbia University, paints a rosy picture of the city’s market for academic facilities

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