The transportation terminal category in September dropped 40%, although it did include $148 million for phase one of the Moynihan Station project in New York City. Also weakening in September was amusement-related work, down 27%; and churches, down 18%. On the plus side, moderate gains in September were registered by health care facilities, up 5%; and public buildings (courthouses and detention facilities), up 2%.

The commercial categories in September showed stronger activity relative to August. Warehouse construction advanced 60%, with the help of such projects as a $57-million distribution center for Dollar Tree in Windsor, Conn. Hotel construction increased 37%, aided by a $68-million addition to a hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., plus two hotel renovations for Westin properties in Atlanta ($45 million) and Cleveland ($36 million).

Stores and shopping centers, up 11%, included $91 million for the retail portion of the Brickell CitiCentre mixed-use project in Miami (with the entire complex having an estimated construction-start cost of $500 million).
Office construction grew 9% in September, and included $43 million for the office portion of the Brickell CitiCentre project, as well as corporate office buildings that reached groundbreaking in Canton, Ohio ($42 million), Overland Park, Kan. ($35 million) and Plano, Texas ($32 million). Manufacturing plant construction in September dropped 10% compared to August.

Residential Building

Residential building in September slipped 1% to $170.3 billion (annual rate). Multifamily housing retreated 10% after its 43% jump in August, and although down for the month, still maintains the broader upward trend for this project type.

Large multifamily projects that reached groundbreaking in September included $231 million for the condominium portion of the Brickell CitiCentre project in Miami. There were also two large multifamily projects that started in San Francisco during September—a $119-million condominium tower and an $82-million apartment building.

Single-family housing maintained its gradual upward movement that’s been present throughout much of 2012, growing 2% in September. The pace for single family housing in September was 23% higher than what was reported back in January.

The 5% increase for total construction on an unadjusted basis during the January-September period of 2012 was the result of heightened activity for two of the three main construction groups. Residential building climbed 26%, with year-to-date gains of 25% for single-family housing and 30% for multifamily housing. Nonbuilding construction was up 6% year-to-date, as a 27% hike for electric utilities and gas plants outweighed a 3% drop for public works.

Nonresidential building was the one major construction group to register a year-to-date decline, falling 12%. The nonresidential decline came as the result of this pattern by segment—commercial building, up a slight 0.5%; institutional building, down 16%; and manufacturing building, down 29%. The year-to-date decline for nonresidential building has been getting smaller as 2012 has proceeded.

By geography, total construction starts during the first nine months of 2012 showed a large gain for the South Atlantic, up 33%; with much of the upward push coming from the start of two massive nuclear power projects in Georgia and South Carolina. If these two projects are excluded, then total construction starts in the South Atlantic would be up 6%.

Year-to-date gains for total construction were also reported for the Midwest, up 6%; and the South Central, up 2%. Two regions registered year-to-date declines for total construction—the Northeast, down 5%; and the West, down 9%.