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February 1, 2023

New housing starts in Greater Worcester rose 26% last year

Photo | Timothy Doyle Madison Properties' SOMA development under construction in December

The number of new homes permitted for construction, a key economic indicator, rose 26% in the Greater Worcester metro area in 2022, beating out pre-COVID figures, establishing a new 10-year high, and defying a state and national downward spiral.

The number of permitted residential units in the Worcester Metropolitan Statistical Area last year grew to 2,587, up 26% from 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Building Permits Survey initially made public on Jan. 19.

That number includes units of single-family homes as well as multi-family developments. The number of structures with five units or more grew to 51 from 11 in 2021, well higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019 when 18 structures were permitted.

The Worcester area is bucking the national trend, as U.S. building permits dropped by almost 30% year over year, according to a press release from the Census Bureau. Statewide, permits dropped by 8% year over year in Massachusetts.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
The number of new units permitted for construction in Worcester MA-CT Metro Area

The number of new housing starts in 2022 established a new 10-year high for Greater Worcester, as the previous high was 2,053 in 2021. Housing starts are generally considered a key indicator of the health of a region’s economy, as more starts can mean the population is growing and more wealth is moving into the region, although the metric can also indicate a region needs more housing, as Greater Worcester does.

Plenty of high-profile multifamily developments began construction in 2022, including The Cove, Alta on the Row, and SOMA in Worcester.

This year promises more development as notable area projects like the 364-unit development proposed by Worcester’s GoVenture Capital Group have been approved and others are being proposed, including almost 800 units being proposed in downtown Worcester and the Canal District at the Worcester Planning Board meeting on Wednesday.

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