by Jeff Burd / Tall Timber Group
I got several calls from local news outlets within the last 10 days following McGraw-Hill’s press release showing $38 million in new construction contracts in February, a huge drop from last year’s $70 million or some such thing. Like many in the industry I have been puzzled at the lack of construction activity in light of our region’s economic vitality and the activity level of architects and engineers, however this data seemed completely shocking. It turns out there is a good reason: it’s not remotely accurate.
The City of Pittsburgh’s permits alone totaled $40 million plus for non-residential construction in February and most of the region’s construction takes place outside the city. Even with less than half the data entered into the Tall Timber database the February totals exceed $100 million. In fact, the YTD totals at the end of the 1st quarter probably won’t be far off the $440 million during that period in 2012 and may be a bit higher.
A lot of the design activity from summer/fall 2012 is getting into the pipeline now. Their is still a sweet spot for contractors who can compete effectively for 30,000-40,000 sq. ft. buildings, which are still popping up in the natural gas supply chain. In the Mon Valley several projects like that are out or coming out to bid shortly, including new buildings for Waukesha Pierce, Duquesne Light and Gardner Denver. A new 35,000 sq. ft. facility for Scientific Drilling is out to bid to Dynamic, Nello Construction, New Belle & TBI.
Massaro Corp. Construction Management group has the $35 million Henderson Health & Human Development Building bid package #3 out due May 1 and a $63 million expansion and renovation project for the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission that is part of the consolidation of the Northcoast Behavioral Healthcare Campus between Cleveland and Youngstown, due on May 2.
Construction is still slower than it should be and will be for as long as their is uncertainty about healthcare reform or interest rates or Federal spending. 2013 will not be the year of the turnaround but it’s also not going to be the year the bottom dropped out.