Even with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, construction in California, the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii remains steady, with billions of dollars of new projects breaking ground last year. The 2020 California Top Starts list is led by military, transit, solar and government projects, while the Northwest Top Starts list includes transportation, mixed-office use and education work.

Jody Quinton, DPR construction management committee member, says the California construction market is proving to be resilient even in the face of the pandemic. “We’re seeing significant volume of active work and starts as well as new work coming into the pipeline,” she says. “If anything, the industry needs to focus on growing the workforce, as it appears the biggest potential drag on putting even more work in place is the availability of qualified skilled labor.”

Related Links
ENR California 2020 Top Starts
ENR Northwest 2020 Top Starts

In Southern California, Milender White expects 2021 starts to be strong. “We are seeing continuing demand in the market-rate multifamily pipeline, and we are growing in the affordable housing and student housing sectors,” says Brandon Tripp, work procurement executive and vice president. He anticipates the firm will break ground on five more projects during 2021, which will bring an additional 1,080 units to the market.

Tripp says its affordable housing Mission Gateway project is tracking ahead of schedule. When complete, Mission Gateway will be one of California’s largest affordable housing communities, with 356 units ranging from studios to four-bedroom apartments.

In Seattle, of 30 projects originally slated for completion in 2020, 21 were finished. An additional 205 projects are in the pipeline, with 54 developments currently under construction, two-thirds of which include a residential component. At the end of 2020, 3.1 million sq ft of office space was under construction, similar to 2019, but down from the 2018 high of 6.4 million sq ft, according the Downtown Seattle Association.

“Our downtown grew at historic rates for nearly a decade,” says Jon Scholes, DSA president and CEO. “Though we’ve endured a year of challenges, signs point to a recovery and the return of our center city as the jobs and residential core of our region. Developers continue to plan for a downtown filled with businesses and people.”

In Vancouver, Wash., Skanska USA Building Inc.’s $156.2-million Mountain View High School replacement ranks third on the Northwest Top Starts list.

“The start of the Mountain View High School project was initially delayed a few months as a result of the pandemic and concern over how the subcontractor bidding market would react to the pandemic and new workplace requirements,” says Trevor Wyckoff, vice president, account manager Skanska USA Building Inc. “The decision to delay the bidding of the project paid off, as it bid under budget and is on schedule to open in fall 2022.”