As we come to the end of another year, it's natural to look back and take stock of recent achievements and accomplishments. For Southeast contractors and designers, one could argue that it's a not-so-minor accomplishment simply getting some additional distance between now and the Great Recession, which finally appears to be dimming in our metaphorical rear-view mirrors. After all, survival is nothing to take for granted.
But it's also good to look ahead to the future, to the trends and potential challenges that await. As we did last year, ENR Southeast will be highlighting some of the industry trends we'll be eyeing with our Watch List, to be published in the January print edition. With that in mind, here's a preview.
Residential Construction: No other construction market is as predictive of overall industry growth, or decline, as residential. More precisely, single-family home construction. For 2015, Dodge Data & Analytics—formerly McGraw Hill Construction—is forecasting roughly $48.7 billion in new housing contracts will move ahead across the four-state region in 2015. Of that, the company estimates that more than $39.1 billion will result from single-family construction. If realized, both of those figures would mark the largest totals for these markets since 2007. Something to watch, indeed.
Atlanta's Construction Workforce: During 2014, Atlanta's two major-league stadium projects—for the NFL's Falcons and MLB's Braves—started construction. As these two major construction efforts ramp up in 2015, it should prove interesting to keep an eye on the availability of labor. Atlanta contractors had already started noticing a shortage of workers before these contracts started construction. Will construction workers from across the country flock to Atlanta to snag these jobs? Or will contractors struggle to staff these projects? Or both?
Miami Towers: No Southeast metro construction market—and, arguably, no other in the U.S.—is building high-rise towers like Miami's. There's a condo that will feature a first-ever robotic car-parking system, for instance, along with residential towers designed by numerous "starchitects." But during 2015, we'll be keeping an eye on a few that promise to quite literally rise above the rest, one way or another. For starters, there's the $430-million, 1,000-ft-tall SkyRise Miami observation tower next to Biscayne Bay, which is being built by a team of Coastal Construction and Tishman Construction Florida. Then there's Tutor Perini's construction of the 80-plus-story Panorama Tower in Miami's Brickell district. Not too far away is Swire Properties' $1-billion-plus Brickell City Centre mixed-use project, currently under construction. Additionally, All Aboard Florida reportedly has requested permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to build a 1,120-ft-tall structure at its Miami transit station.
All Aboard Florida: Which brings us to All Aboard Florida. The entity developing a $2.3-billion, 235-mile Miami-to-Orlando passenger train system has made plenty of news during 2014: moving ahead with preliminary construction on the line's southern leg; hiring Suffolk Construction to build the 3-million-sq-ft Miami station; and, of course, for the public outcry that's popped up along the Space Coast region. The coming year should prove pivotal.
Technology: As ENR's Tom Sawyer wrote in the Nov. 25 technology cover story, "Design and construction professionals are seeing a rapid expansion in the hardware, software and services available for collecting and sharing information with distributed teams." For instance, Barton Malow, which is leading a high-tech redo of Daytona International Speedway, is just one of countless Southeast contractors striving to leverage new technology for tangible project benefits.
And.... What do you think? What other trends are you "watching" with keen interest? I encourage readers to either share your comments below, or else email me at email@example.com. Either way, good luck in 2015.