On the whole, the 2021 ENR MidAtlantic Top Starts ranking is evidence that the region’s construction market is still recovering from the pandemic. The 22 projects on this year’s list are valued at $5.3 billion, down 17.2% from the top 22 projects on last year’s list. In all, the ENR MidAtlantic 2020 Top Starts ranking included 24 projects worth a combined $6.7 billion. The projects on the 2019 list, based on pre-pandemic data, totaled $9 billion. 

Going back further, the list’s results for each of the last three years are down sharply from the $13.5 billion reported in 2018 and the $21.2 billion total for ENR MidAtlantic’s list for 2017.

Despite the continued downward trend, one anecdotal indicator that business may be starting to return to some semblance of pre-pandemic levels is that the Great Wolf Resorts Waterpark in Perryville, Md., broke ground about nine months after vaccines became available to some of the country’s smallest citizens. The $250-million indoor waterpark, which is expected to open in mid- to late 2023, ranks No. 8 among this year’s Top Starts. With 700 family-friendly suites and a 126,000-sq-ft indoor waterpark, the brand’s largest resort in North America is a sign that parents are more comfortable taking part in indoor activities with their children. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a July 2021 statement when the resort broke ground that the project was “yet another shining example that our state economy is coming back stronger and better than ever before.”

The Great Wolf Lodge, which was designed by Stantec and is being constructed by Turner Construction Co., joins 21 other projects on this year’s list that started substantial construction in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia in 2021. 

The top-ranked project this year was the $454-million RiverRenew Tunnel System Project in Alexandria, Va. The project, the largest infrastructure effort in the city’s history, includes a new tunnel system.

The rankings are compiled using information from Dodge Data & Analytics as well as details provided by industry firms and other sources. The minimum value of projects for 2021 was $150 million, an increase from $110 million in 2020, but down from $200 million in 2019 and $185 million in 2018.