Despite a recession that put a stranglehold on private development, some Virginia contractors continue to breathe easier thanks to the major public and institutional work that has flowed through the state in recent years.
But as billions in federal funding comes to an end and state coffers dry up in the coming months, contractors across the state are apprehensive about future prospects in the Old Dominion.
By some accounts, 2009 appeared to be a healthy year for large contractors in Virginia. Revenues among the state’s top 10 contractors hit a combined $4.29 billion in 2009, up from $4.03 billion in 2008.
For many of those firms, projects let under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005 proved to be their savior. Clark Group of Bethesda, Md., reaped $1.25 billion in revenue in Virginia last year, nearly double its take in 2008.
A big portion of that came from the $1.4-billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency East Campus currently under construction at Fort Belvoir’s Engineer Proving Ground near Springfield, Va., which broke ground in late 2007 and is set for completion in September 2011. Last year, Clark also broke ground on the Department of Defense’s $695-million BRAC 133 Project at Mark Center in Alexandria, Va. Substantial completion is scheduled in 2011.
Balfour Beatty Construction of Fairfax, Va., which is working with Clark on the Fort Belvoir project, tallied $525 million in 2009, up from $450 million the previous year. Like many contractors in the state, Balfour Beatty is highly focused on major federal and state opportunities.
But with few other opportunities available, and with major federal programs such as BRAC and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act running low on future funds, the competition is fierce.
“On one hand, we’re fortunate to be in an area that benefits from all of these markets, but on the other hand we’re in a market area with a wealth of qualified GCs, and that raises the bar on competition,” says Steve Smithgall, executive vice president of Balfour Beatty’s Washington division. “Fortunately for us, a lot is coming out as design-build or best value [procurement] so you have an opportunity to narrow the field and be successful based on things other than just low bid.”
In November, the company won a $42-million contract from the U.S General Services Administration to modernize the Poff Federal Building in Roanoke. The project is being funded with stimulus money. Completion is scheduled for November 2012.
In August, the firm began construction on the $61-million Navy Joint Regional Correctional Facility in Chesapeake. The BRAC project, designed by Moseley Architects of Richmond, is scheduled for completion in 2011.
In January, Balfour Beatty signed a $117-million public private partnership deal to build the new Western State Hospital in Staunton, Va. The project, which is being built for the Virginia Dept. of Behavioral Health in a partnership with Ballou Justice Upton Architects of Richmond and Cannon Design of Arlington, is scheduled to complete in 2012.
Education and Health Care Institutional work, such as...