ENR Southwest’s 2018 Top Starts ranking includes 25 projects with a total value of more than $5.3 billion, up slightly from approximately $5 billion in 2017.

Featured on the list are projects with construction costs of $70 million or above—up from $50 million a year ago—that began construction in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico during calendar year 2018.

The top six projects by cost in the region are in Nevada, including the high-profile Las Vegas Convention Center renovation. Martin-Harris and Turner Construction comprise the contracting team on the $860-million, 1.4-million-sq-ft project. Work is expected to be complete in 2021.

Ten of the projects located in Nevada each cost more than $100 million, including a new minor-league baseball complex in Summerlin at $150 million and the MSG Las Vegas Sphere, a $450-million structure that could be the biggest spherical structure in the world when completed.

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ENR Southwest’s 2018 Top Starts

Nevada is also experiencing a public school building boom. In the Las Vegas area, the Clark County School District has built 11 schools in the past two years and will open four more by the end of 2020.

In northern Nevada, population gains in Reno and Sparks are also driving school projects. A successful 2016 ballot measure is providing funding for Washoe County School District’s building plan, which will see the district spend nearly $1 billion over the next 10 years.

“These projects have a big impact on not only our students and their families, but the entire Washoe County community,” says Pete Etchart, the district’s chief operating officer.

“This unprecedented volume of work is being done while being mindful of our commitment to the citizens of being at the highest level of transparency and accountability with the funding that they provided to us for this critical work,” Etchart says.

All but one of the 10 Arizona projects listed are in the Phoenix metropolitan area, the largest of which is the second stage of the $280-million PHX Sky Train. The project extends the people mover at Sky Harbor Airport by 2.5 miles, connecting terminals to the Rental Car Center while also adding two stations and expanding the maintenance center. The Weitz Co. is the design-build contractor.

Jennifer Mellor, chief innovation officer for the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, says Arizona is attractive to companies because of the quality and diversity of its workforce, low regulations and taxes. Health care and medical research have been important growth sectors in the state, with Dignity Health and Banner Health opening hospitals in the past year and Honor Health recently breaking ground on a hospital in northern Phoenix, Mellor says.

Arizona is now a popular home for information technology and autonomous vehicle companies, including Swiss security firm Kudelski, IT operations for ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft as well as Local Motors and Nikola Motors, Mellor adds.