Top Project Starts: Midwest Construction Activity Neither Advancing Nor Retreating
The boom has spread to Indianapolis, where developer Buckingham Cos. is constructing 320 upscale apartments for CityWay, a $155-million mixed-use project currently under construction, and to Milwaukee, where the $52-million Moderne, a 30-story apartment tower, broke ground in February 2011.
Regional construction also continues to be buoyed by health care operators, which are upgrading or replacing facilities in order to remain competitive, even if their programs require them to borrow heavily.
"Only recently have we begun to see a return to the billion-dollar or multi-hundred-million-dollar hospital and medical campus building programs that were hot until 2008, when the endowment balloon deflated and the debt market froze up," says Ken Simonson, chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va. "Now, we're seeing the return of both. The debt market is wide open for enterprises that have the proven revenue streams to pay back their debt."
In addition to the infrastructure required to support advanced diagnostics and treatment, providers are introducing accommodations and finishes more reminiscent of hotels than hospitals in order to improve patient comfort, privacy and infection control. Space allocations also are changing, with more square footage devoted to diagnostics and treatment and less to overnight stays.
The regional outlook is spottier for civil works. In many cases, federal, state or local funding isn't in place to support highway, bridge and rail systems, a dilemma that in January prompted Ohio officials to declare that state transportation was in a state of crisis. Accordingly, state lawmakers are weighing proposals to privatize the Ohio Turnpike or implement more bridge and highway tolls in order to fund projects, a tact taken by Illinois lawmakers to finance a $12-billion toll road expansion and renovation plan and create 120,000 jobs.
Although Illinois continues to dig its way out of debt with employment programs that rely heavily on construction, including a $31-billion, multiyear infrastructure improvement program, state lawmakers and transportation officials fret that the U.S. House of Representative's federal transportation bill would eliminate the use of motor fuel tax money to support mass transit projects, which could jeopardize Chicago's transit system, the second largest in the nation.
As in 2011, regional builders may simply have to wait for recovery. While U.S. construction employment hit a two-year high in January, the industry's 17% unemployment is double that of the overall economy.
"Mild weather may have figured into higher January employment," says Simonson."I wouldn't break out the bubbly yet."
|Rank||Project Location||Project Cost||Start Date/ End Date||Owner Prime contractor|
|1||U.S. 31 Major Moves Upgrade Hamilton County, Ind.||$600 million||April 2011 2017||Indiana Dept. of Transportation Multiple Contractors|
|2||Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center Cleveland, Ohio||$465 million||Jan. 2011 Aug. 2013||Cuyahoga Country Turner Construction|
|3||Hollywood Casino Columbus, Ohio||$400 million||April 2011 Nov. 2012||Penn National Gaming Inc.Smoot Construction Co.|
|3||Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, Ohio||$400 million||Feb. 2011 Feb. 2013||Rock Ohio Caesars Messer Construction Co.|
|5||Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, Ohio||$350 million||Feb. 2011 March 2012||Rock Ohio Caesars Whiting-Turner Construction Co.|
|6||Wacker Drive—Phase Il Chicago, Ill.||$300 million||Jan. 2011 Dec. 2012||Chicago Dept. of Transportation Alfred Benesch & Co.|
|7||Domtar Inc. Pulp and Paper Mill Cogeneration PlantRothschild, Wis.||$255 million||April 2011 Summer 2013||WE Energies The Boldt. Co.|
|8||William Eckhardt Research CenterChicago, Ill.||$215 million||Sept. 2011 Feb. 2015||University of Chicago W.E. O’Neil|
|9||Archer Daniels Midland Carbon Capture and Sequestration Project Decatur, Ill.||$207 million||Aug. 2011 Summer 2013||Archer Daniels Midland Schlumberger Carbon Services|
|10||Advocate Christ Medical Center Ambulatory Pavilion Oak Lawn, Ill.||$202 million||Oct. 2011 Nov. 2013||Advocate Christ Medical Center Pepper Construction Co.|
|11||Columbus Crossroads I-71/670 Interchange Franklin County, Ohio||$200 million||Sept. 2011 2014||Ohio Dept. of Transportation Kokosing Construction|
|11||Goldwind Shady Oaks Wind Farm Lee County, Ill.||$200 million||Aug. 2011 June 2012||GoldwindMortenson Construction|
|13||Goodyear Tire & Rubber Corporate Headquarters Akron, Ohio||$160 million||April 2011 Winter 2013||Industrial Realty Group Welty Construction|
|14||CityWay Mixed-Use Development Indianapolis, Ind.||$155 million||Aug. 2011 Fall 2012||Buckingham Cos. Buckingham Construction Co.|
|15||Coast Residences at Lakeshore East Chicago, Ill.||$149 million||June 2011 Feb. 2013||Magellan Development McHugh Construction Co.|
|16||Lambeau Field Expansion Green Bay, Wis.||$143 million||Sept. 2011 Summer 2013||Green Bay Packers Corp. Miron Construction Co.|
|17||Residences at 500 Lake Shore Drive Chicago, Ill.||$142 million||Sept. 2011 May 2013||Related Midwest Lend Lease|
|18||Johnson Controls Inc. Plant Expansion Toledo, Ohio||$139 million||July 2011 June 2012||Johnson Controls Inc. Mosser Construction|
|19||Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Center—Phase II Madison, Wis.||$135 million||Feb. 2011 Aug. 2013||University of Wisconsin The Boldt Co.|
|20||Harper Court Mixed-Used Development Chicago, Ill.||$134 million||Nov. 2011 Summer 2013||Harper Court Partners McHugh Construction Co.|
|21||St. Alexius Children’s HospitalHoffman Estates, Ill.||$117 million||May 2011 Winter 2013||Alexian Brothers Hospital Network Power Construction Co.|
|22||Optima Center Residences Chicago, Ill.||$114 million||Nov. 2011 Feb. 2013||Optima Inc. and DeBartolo DevelopmentOptima Inc.|
|23||Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital Expansion Westerville, Ohio||$110 million||June 2011 Summer 2013||Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Messer Construction Co.|
|24||St. John’s Orthopedic Center Springfield, Mo.||$105 million||March 2011 Summer 2013||University of Missouri McCarthy Building Cos. |
|25||University of Illinois Electrical and Computer Engineering Building Urbana, Ill.||$95 million||Oct. 2011 Fall 2014||University of Illinois Williams Brothers|
|26||3M Manufacturing Plant Expansion Cordova, Ill.||$90 million||June 2011 June 2013||3MRussell Construction|
|26||Promega Corp. Production Plant Fitchburg, Wis.||$90 million||Aug. 2011 Summer 2013||Promega Corp. Kraemer Brothers|
|28||University of Illinois Eikenberry Commons Residence Halls Phase III Champaign, Ill.||$78 million||May 2011 June 2013||University of Illinois Clayco Corp.|
|29||K2 Apartment Tower Chicago, Ill.||$77 million||Oct. 2011 June 2013||Fifield Cos. and Wood Partners McHugh Construction Co.|
|30||Family Dollar Distribution Facility Ashley, Ind.||$70 million||May 2011 Summer 2012||Family Dollar The Conlon Co.|
|31||DePaul University Theatre School Chicago, Ill.||$69 million||June 2011 July 2013||DePaul University W.E. O’Neil|
|32||Marriott Milwaukee Milwaukee, Wis.||$54 million||Nov. 2011 June 2013||Jackson Street Development C.D. Smith Construction|
|33||The Moderne Residences Milwaukee, Wis.||$52 million||Feb. 2011 April 2012||Barrett Visionary J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.|
|34||G.E. Aviation R&D Center Dayton, Ohio||$51 million||April 2011 Spring 2013||G.E. Aviation Development Findorff & Son Inc.|
|35||Lawrenceburg Event CenterLawrenceburg, Ind.||$49 million||Oct. 2011 Winter 2013||City of Lawrenceburg and Horseshoe Casino Messer Construction Co.|