While construction indicators are showing that large project work is doing marginally better than last year, some massive projects that have broken ground over the past few months or are in the final stage of approval offer some cause for optimism.
A McGraw-Hill Construction press release said new construction starts in June slipped 1% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $446.1 billion, and that after the elevated activity it reported during March and April, which reflected the lift coming from two nuclear power projects (noted below), total construction in May and June returned to a level just slightly above the average monthly pace reported last year. McGraw-Hill data for June showed a moderate loss of momentum for nonresidential building, after this sector’s improved performance in May.
“The construction start statistics for the most part continue to hover within a set range, showing gains for some project types but further weakness for other project types,” said Robert Murray, vice president of economic affairs for McGraw-Hill Construction, in that release. “Total construction activity had jumped in March and April, due primarily to the start of two massive nuclear power projects.
“Aside from the lift coming from this year’s nuclear power projects, total construction activity during the first half of 2012 has basically shown a hesitant up-and-down pattern. On the plus side, gains are being reported for several commercial building categories, and the strengthening trend for multi-family housing is now being joined by moderate growth for single-family housing. On the negative side, such institutional project types as educational buildings and health-care facilities continue to weaken, along with further declines for several public works categories.”
Along with the mega-projects highlighted below, McGraw-Hill said the construction projects now underway valued at more than $100 million include a $375 million petrochemical plant expansion in Louisiana; a $196 million pharmaceutical research facility in Massachusetts; a $166 million research center at the University of Chicago in Chicago; a $135 million construction equipment manufacturing plant in Georgia; a $130 million hospital in Morganton, N.C.; a $113 million hospital addition in Boulder, Colo. and a $101 million technical school in Danvers, Mass.
Other large projects include an $80 million building at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.; a $78 million Family Dollar distribution center in Utah.; a $65 million office building in Arlington, Va.; a $52 million outlet mall in Rosemont, Ill.; a $35 million renovation to a World Bank facility in Washington, D.C.; and a $32 million outlet mall in Woodstock, Ga.