City Speeds Up Construction Approvals

The new process seems simple enough: allow city officials and real estate developers to review blueprints for new projects in a virtual conference room, online, rather than in person. The city claims this simple step of going digital will drastically reduce the time it takes for construction projects to be approved.

Bruce Beal, executive vice president of the Related Companies, thinks the new system, called the NYC Development Hub, will cut approval times in half, in large part because stakeholders could log in from afar.

"It used to be it sometimes would take us three weeks between meetings," said Beal, whose company is among the city's largest developers. "And so it's not only going to shorten meeting times, but they will tell us exactly, while they're reviewing, 'Here are the things that you need to change immediately.' And potentially resolve those issues right there, as opposed to having to wait for another meeting."

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was on hand for the announcement, also argued that the new approval process would ultimately lead to greater job creation by reducing red tape.

"More construction projects mean more jobs for New Yorkers, and the NYC Development Hub simplifies the way building plans are received and reviewed so those jobs can be created as soon as possible — without sacrificing public safety," Bloomberg said.

He added, "It is an enormous change."

The Department of Buildings reviewed 457,000 construction plans submitted by architects and engineers last year.