New construction starts have slowed in Palm Beach and Broward counties, but a couple of big projects about to begin in South Florida have contractors hopeful for better times ahead.

South Florida Report: All Dried Up
Photo: Aerial Photo Inc./
A reminder of recent times, when construction opportunities dotted the landscape. Miami-based Coastal Construction's nearly completed Promenade project.
South Florida Report: All Dried Up
A rendering of the new Florida Marlins baseball park, which will feature a retractable roof. Located in Miami, the $430-million project, which officially broke ground is July, is raising hopes of creating jobs for contractors located in Broward and Palm Beach counties, too. Image courtesy Populous.

“It’s pretty much dead,” says Kent Long, senior vice president of federal projects for Balfour Beatty Construction in Plantation. “There is not a whole lot of activity from a public or private perspective.”

Long expects the logjam may break in the last quarter of 2009 as stimulus funding starts to flow to municipalities.

“We’re seeing a lot of municipality and city facilities on the market,” says Sam Doggart, senior vice president of Skanska USA Building in Dania, who describes the market as flat to a little positive. “There are a handful of private-client projects,” he says. “They are trying to find revenue to be able to allow them to get loans to make these projects happen.”

Doggart says lenders are asking developers to come up with 25% to 30% equity, which is difficult to secure. Until lending improves, contractors are pinning their hopes on a few highly competitive projects on the market and hoping for stimulus funds to trickle down, he adds.

Moss & Associates of Fort Lauderdale received a few of the rare private jobs. It expects to begin work later this year on three urban-infill Publix supermarket projects, one each in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Each project is valued at about $15 million.

Moss is also working on a $20-million project for Leon Medical Centers in Miami. The 84,000-sq-ft, four-story center topped out in May.

Scott Moss, senior vice president of the company, says health care is experiencing challenging economic times as more people lose jobs and their insurance coverage but still seek care at area hospitals, which is prompting some health systems that would like to build new facilities to renovate or add on instead.

“Our guys are struggling,” adds Len Mills, executive vice president of the Associated General Contractors South Florida chapter in Sunrise. “There are no strong sectors until the Marlins stadium and the Interstate 595 rebuilding begin. Those will create some jobs.”

Big Projects, Big Hopes Construction manager Hunt/Moss, a joint venture between Hunt Construction Group of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Moss & Associates, in association with Mars Contractors of Miami, will build the Major League Baseball team’s new $430-million, 37,000-seat stadium, owned by Miami-Dade County. Groundbreaking was in July, and completion is scheduled for the start of the 2012 season.

In addition to the ballpark, the city of Miami plans to build a $93-million parking garage for the stadium.

I-595 Express, formed by concessionaire ACS Infrastructure Development of Spain, will design, build, finance, operate and maintain for 35 years three reversible express toll lanes in the median of Interstate 595 from Interstate 95 to Interstate 75 in Broward County. ACS received the I-595 Corridor Improvement Project contract from the Florida Dept. of Transportation.

The $1.2-billion construction project, along 10.5 mi of highway, includes reconstruction or construction of 60 bridges, connections to frontage and other roads, and related work.

Construction began in June on the Broward County Greenway, a recreational trail parallel to I-595 and part of the project. Joe Borello, FDOT project manager for I-595 Express, says he expects major construction to start on the roadway in September.

The construction team includes GLF Construction Corp. of Miami; Hubbard Construction Co. of Winter Park, Fla., Redland Construction Co., of Homestead, Fla.; H&J Contracting of Royal Palm Beach, Fla.; and Bergeron Land Development of Pembroke Pines, Fla.

Public Projects Several other public projects are under way.