With over 2,500 housing units planned within the county, and only so many increasingly spendthrift college students to exploit, local developers kinda need further justification to launch into such a building boom. The census is certainly supportive of their plans.
Following the new April 2012 census estimates (file here), from April 2010 to July 2012, Tompkins County has likely added another 990 residents, bringing the local population to 102,554. Interestingly enough, Tompkins and the bordering counties serve as a little growth pocket in otherwise declining upstate New York – Broome County, home to Binghamton, lost the most residents of any county, with about 2,540 shipping out, a drop of 1.3%. The largest increases upstate came in from Jefferson County (home to the growing Fort Drum), and Saratoga County (home to the very large and very new computer chip plant), with Tompkins in third with 1.0% growth. Given the 5.2% growth of the last decade, Tompkins is on par with its growth rate in the 2000s.
I should issue the token disclaimer that there are estimates, and the actual numbers can be a surprise when they come out in 2020. For instance, it was thought in the 2000s that Onondaga County/Syracuse lost 4,000 people over the decade – they gained 9,000. And I’m not sure how much I believe the rapidly suburbanizing Dutchess County, which hasn’t lost population since the 1890s, is believed to have lost people over the two year span. For Tompkins County in 2010, the original estimates were too high by a little over 200 (an error of about 4%). Also, perhaps this comes as no surprise, the New York portion of the New York metro added about 160,000 people, cementing their belief that they are the center of the world and the rest of us just live in it.
Two of the numbers I like to throw around for a housing unit is that Tompkins averages 2.4 occupants for non-college housing, 2.0 for college housing. If we use that 990 figure, it can be broken down to 413 traditional units or 495 college student units – and that’s additional units required in two years, in a county already experiencing a housing shortage. I’d say builders have all the justification they need for development in the near-term.