There are signs that the declining architectural billings index in the Northeast is rebounding, Swarney says, “including an increase in billings indicating an upturn in future work despite numbers being below pre-pandemic levels.” He says there is an increase in multifamily residential, high-end residential and mixed-use projects. “There was a shortage of inventory and a need for affordable housing creating demand in those areas during the year, as well as steady work for renovations,” he says.
Tax credits boosted several local affordable housing developments. AIA Pennsylvania supported recently passed legislation creating a state housing tax credit incentivizing construction and the rehabilitation of blighted buildings for affordable housing. Swarney expects 2021 to start slow, but he says COVID vaccines and a second federal stimulus package could create a “significant” recovery. “However,” he adds, “it may take two to three years for the Harrisburg community to achieve pre-pandemic occupancy of offices and other facilities. There will be segments of the area rebounding faster than others.”