... building a military brig building at Miramar. It is in pursuit of various contracts at Camp Pendleton as well.

McCarthy, Jacobs and NTD are the principals on the Methodist Hospital of SoCal tower project in Arcadia
McCarthy, Jacobs and NTD are the principals on the Methodist Hospital of SoCal tower project in Arcadia
The San Francisco PUC building
The San Francisco PUC building

But the firm is seeing even more of its projects coming from school construction, where it receives about half of its work load in Southern California.

“This market is going quite well,” says Mark Kersey, Clark vice president. “In this economy there are very few clients that have a lot of work and LAUSD does and continues to through their various bond programs.

“So those of us who jumped into [LAUSD’s school] work several years ago are now the beneficiaries of being here while they still have a program standing, while all the private work has all but left the market. There are very few select public agencies that are moving forward with new projects.”

The company is currently working on three high schools in the Los Angeles area. One the biggest is the $86-million South LA High School #3, which broke ground last summer and is currently about 40% complete on its way to a summer 2011 completion.

Kersey says much of the school work has come with help from bonds. He says as the money from runs out from Prop 1A, which passed in 1998, he is looking at Measure Q, a $7-billion school repair bond passed in 2008.

Bruce Nelson, a vice president at McCarthy, says the slow economy has helped school owners get good deals on construction.

“All the schools that had those big bonds are buying as many jobs as they can right now because they are getting them from anywhere between 20% and 30% less than what their budget was three years ago,” he says. “They are buying as much work as they can because they are able to buy more work in the marketplace.”

Nelson says that while his company is active in both school and military construction, it is the healthcare sector that is currently the busiest for them. He says the company is presently working on 12 to 14 hospital projects.

This may sound like a booming market, but Nelson says the numbers can be deceiving.

“The hospital market has experienced a slowdown like every market,” he says. “The only reason you see a lot of hospital work right now is because of a backlog of projects coming to fruition and finally getting built.

“People consistently call me about the hospital market and want to know how they can get into it because it looks like the hottest market in the world. But we’ve had these jobs in preconstruction for two years and they were sold three years ago, when the market was real hot.”

Two of McCarthy’s current hospital projects include the $700-million Kaiser Fontana Replacement Hospital and the $140-million Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia.

“The big thing at Methodist is that we are actually tunneling under the existing hospital back to the central utility plant and bringing utilities over to the expansion of the hospital,” says Nelson. “This is a very unique process for a California OSHPD-governed hospital. It is very difficult to get that approved because it’s a super complex process”

The project is currently about 40% complete and is scheduled to finish in late 2011.

At Kaiser Fontana, McCarthy recently topped-out steel and is working on a new patient tower, central utility plant, performing demo work and preparing for tunneling. Nelson says the project should be complete in late 2015.