As ENR New England joins forces with ENR New York in 2020 and boosts its number of issues to six a year from two, the regional publication for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont also tabulated its Top Starts list for the first time since 2014. The 20 projects listed on this year’s list began substantial construction during 2019. The ranking is compiled using information from Dodge Data & Analytics and from the project teams. 

The combined value of this year’s Top Starts totaled of $5.9 billion, with the top-ranked project, Winthrop Center in Boston, valued at $870 million. The top-ranked project in 2014, Seaport Square Block B & C, was valued at $387.5 million, when 25 ranked projects totaled about $4 billion in project value. The minimum project value on this year’s list is $189 million, compared with $77.8 million in 2014.

 “The market remains strong across every sector in New England, which clearly demonstrates the strength of our local economy,” says Jeff Gouveia, Northeast president and general manager for Suffolk Construction. The firm is the contractor on Winthrop Center and four other ranked projects—Logan International Airport, New Terminal E (ranked No. 2 at $680 million); 400 Summer Street (No. 5 at $300 million); Raffles Boston Back Bay Hotel & Residences (No. 9 at $259 million); and B.M.C Durfee High School (No. 7 at $264 million).

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ENR New England 2019 Top Starts

Located in Fall River, Mass., Durfee High is one of four K-12 school projects on the list. The other K-12 projects are No. 8-ranked Attleboro High School in Attleboro, Mass. ($260 million), No. 11 Belmont Middle and High School in Belmont, Mass., ($237 million) and No. 20 East Providence High School in East Providence, R.I. ($189 million).

Jeff Navin, vice president of project management at Consigli Construction Co., which is serving as construction manager on Attleboro High, points out that the K-12 sector has increased in Massachusetts “as community stakeholders invest in their facilities by undertaking large and new high school projects to reflect programming and updated curriculum.”

According to Navin, there is a “surge in career and technical education, which requires expanding technology-based spaces such as adding lab space to promote a career-focused style of learning.”

For example, the new Attleboro High includes 16 such focused programs “to provide their students exposure to real-world applications such as robotics, culinary arts, cosmetology and visual arts,” he says. 

Richard Marks is senior vice president and Boston office leader at CHA and also president at Daedalus Projects Inc., a CHA company that is the owner’s project manager for Belmont High.

There are a “significant number of large high schools in the planning and construction phases due to steady and predictable funding from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which offsets the cost to local communities,” says Marks. “There are also many aging schools in need of updates due to age and changes in the delivery of education.”

East Providence High is one of only four projects on the list located outside Massachusetts. The other three are in Connecticut and include the $210-million Bradley International Airport Transportation Center, at No. 14, and the No. 13-ranked I-91 Charter Oak Bridge Project, valued at $213 million.

O&G Industries Inc. of Torrington, Conn. is building the Charter Oak Bridge in a joint venture with Barletta Heavy Division of Canton, Mass. O&G says the three-year project in Hartford “will make critical major improvements to an interchange notorious for mile-long backups” by doubling bridge capacity and improving the geometry of the connector.

O&G also is helping the state in its initiative for more accelerated bridge construction (ABC) on short span bridges. O&G completed one ABC project in 2017, one in 2019 and is currently managing the rehabilitation of an I-95 bridge over U.S. Route 1 in Branford, Conn. The $11.37-million project started in April 2019 and is expected to finish in October.

Ryan Oneglia, assistant vice president for the heavy civil division at O&G, says ABC bridges “constructed on the ground away from the final location” are trending regionally because they “reduce interruption to the traveling public.” 

New England’s construction market overall is expected to continue growing in 2020. Suffolk’s Gouveia says his firm is projecting its regional revenue to reach $2.2 billion this year, up 22% from 2019. “The economy continues to boom, but we all know it won’t last forever—a slowdown will eventually come, and it will likely rear its ugly head in the high-end residential market first,” says Gouveia, who was previously based in Miami while serving as president of Suffolk’s Southeast region.

Gouveia adds, “We’re seeing a softening of the high-end residential sector in Miami right now, which could be a harbinger for the New England market sometime in the future.”