Southwest Construction Starts Keep Climbing up
Activity in the region continues to gain momentum, which may lead to slight cost increases by the end of 2016
Once again, the top 25 construction project starts in the Southwest outpaced the previous year. With a cumulative value of over $8 billion, the top starts in 2015 topped 2014’s figures by roughly $3 billion.
|Click Here to View the 2016 Top Starts in the Southwest|
For the second-straight year, the state of Nevada led the way in the Southwest: Four of the top five projects broke ground in Nevada. The construction of Resorts World Las Vegas, the first new hotel and resort in Las Vegas in more than five years, provided the largest boost. The $4-billion Chinese-themed property broke ground in May 2015, and owner Genting Group expects to open the property in mid-2018.
In addition, Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino broke ground in Las Vegas in 2015. The 2.6-acre boutique project has an estimated cost of $373 million.
Public infrastructure projects also boosted construction spending in Nevada, including the $650-million Lake Mead Intake Pumping Station and the $275-million 100-MW Renewable Energy Generation Facility, both in Boulder, Nev. Additionally, Nevada saw construction dollars spent on transportation projects, such as the Interstate-11 Boulder Bypass Phase 2 and Southeast Connector Project in Washoe County.
“Several jobs were scaled back or placed on hold during the recession, as lending conditions tightened and public funding coffers grew depleted,” says Tony Illia, Nevada Dept. of Transportation information officer. “Years of inactivity and holding back created a critical infrastructure backlog. However, a strengthening economy is inspiring cautious optimism as well as project bidding opportunities.”
The other top-five start belongs to Roosevelt County Wind Ranch, which sits between Elida and Dora, N.M. With an estimated cost of $430 million, the 150-turbine wind farm ranked third.
Several major projects broke ground in the state of Arizona—namely, the renovation of Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State University. The home of the Sun Devil football team is undergoing a much-needed, $256-million face-lift. Phase 2 of the project kicked off on Nov. 21 and includes the addition of premium flooring, lifting of the upper concourse and technological upgrades. ASU expects to finish that phase in August in preparation for the college football season. The complete renovation has an expected end date of July 2017.
ASU also broke ground on a new, $120-million residence hall that will house over 1,500 students at the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering. It opens in fall 2017.
While the stadium renovation at ASU garnered most of the headlines, the Red Horse Wind and Solar Facility in Cochise County, Ariz., is also notable, as it is one of the largest combination wind-and-solar facilities in the U.S. With an estimated cost of $200 million, the project finished construction in August 2015.
Other significant projects in Arizona include the $160-million emergency-room and helipad construction at Banner University-Phoenix. Construction on the 106,400-sq-ft emergency room began in October 2015, and the hospital expects it to finish in July 2017.
Increased activity in Arizona finally has brought tightness to the construction labor pool, according to Mortenson Construction. The firm recently released a construction cost index that indicates a 3% rise in 2016.
“Construction employment is leveling out, and price escalation should be more consistent with long-term averages. We believe this should allow customers to more accurately plan for increases in the next year,” says Clark Taylor, vice president of estimating at Mortenson.
New multifamily developments in the downtown Phoenix area, including Portland on the Park and Muse Apartments, also boosted Arizona’s construction.
Both Nevada and Arizona have shown overall year-over-year construction growth, and strong demand in both the public and private sectors indicates that growth should continue. New Mexico, on the other hand, has lost construction jobs, year over year, heading into 2015 and had only two projects on the 2015 Top Starts list.