Executive Vice President
The sustained momentum and growth in tourism is keeping Orlando’s construction industry in high demand, says John Harris, Balfour Beatty vice president.
“It's strong demand is expected to drive further development into the hospitality and attractions sector, a very competitive market locally,” he says.
Balfour Beatty is currently working on several large attraction and resort projects tied to Orlando’s theme parks, but in the midst of the continued demand, Harris says contractors are navigating unprecedented supply chain and labor issues as well as high interest rates for developer-led projects.
Some forecasts say unprecedented material and labor costs will stabilize or even become more favorable throughout the rest of the year. But with lingering unknowns, he says, Balfour Beatty is committed to working with clients through preconstruction to build out certainty, secure volatile materials and get ahead of supply chain and escalation risks.
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Labor demand remains a challenge, Harris says, one that Balfour Beatty is tackling by partnering with Osceola County to recruit, train and retain local apprentices through a two-year Florida Dept. of Labor apprenticeship program requiring participants to complete 5,200 hours of on-the-job training and 120 hours of classroom instruction at Osceola Technical College.
“[Tourism’s] strong demand is expected to drive further development into the hospitality and attractions sector.”
—John Harris, Executive Vice President, Balfour Beatty
Along with Orlando’s stream of hospitality and hotel projects, Harris says the Balfour Beatty team is focusing on corporate office, education and renovation/expansion work locally. Amid the challenges of recent years, the firm has found ways to meet clients’ needs with capital improvements to existing facilities instead of more traditional, large, ground-up projects.
“Our teams are gaining great traction in the special projects and interior build-out market to meet these client needs, specifically in tenant improvement, renovations, resort amenity space and guest room refresh work,” he says.
One hospitality project in the works for Balfour Beatty is the 81,000-sq-ft Rollins College Alfond Inn Hotel expansion and renovation, an addition to the existing luxury hotel that includes 71 guest rooms, a spa and amenity deck to address the increasing need for social venues in historic Winter Park.
Outside hospitality and confidential theme park projects, Balfour Beatty is currently constructing the SchenkelShultz-designed Lake Highland Preparatory School Porter Family Center for Innovation and Academics, a 71,000-sq-ft, four-story educational facility set to open in the 2023-24 school year after 14 months of construction.
Balfour Beatty recently completed the AdventHealth Training Facility, a 35,000-sq-ft outpatient clinic and a 100,000-sq-ft training facility for the NBA’s Orlando Magic.
Photo courtesy Balfour Beatty
Hospitality, attractions, education, corporate office, special projects and interior build-outs are the sectors keeping contractors busy, but looking to the future, local contractors are eyeing projects prompted by the further development of Brightline’s transit rail system coming to the Orlando airport, Harris says, where builders are starting to see positive indications of additional building resources being needed to support local transportation disbursement.