Brian Deery of the Associated General Contractors of America says "business is good but not booming" for the construction industry given the limited increase in federal infrastructure spending. Furthermore, the industry is not yet "past the wilderness" with regard to the impact of steel tariffs on the industry despite sentiment among some that initial price bumps resulted from opportunistic suppliers.
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Despite objections from residents, the nearly 300-year-old Alamo site will be redeveloped, thanks to the San Antonio City Council's approval of a $450 million plan. Work, which will include construction of a new museum, could begin as soon as 2020.
Plans for a $2.5 billion mixed-use development in Chicago's North Branch Corridor gained approval from the Chicago Plan Commission, and construction of the first phase may start in 2020. The previous industrial site will be large enough for 14 mixed-use buildings that will include affordable housing, plus 13 acres of open space and a walkway along the Chicago River.
A 21-story tower planned for 2999 Turtle Creek Blvd. in Dallas will house a contemporary hotel with 175 rooms and 82 condominiums. JMJ Development has tapped FAB Studio to design the concrete and glass structure.
Dodge Data & Analytics says the value of construction starts declined 5% month over month in September and 1% year over year. Nonbuilding construction dropped 13% due mainly to a dearth of big electric utility and gas plant projects, but manufacturing plant construction increased 36%.
SG Blocks is using prefabricated steel shipping containers to give homeowners in natural-disaster-prone areas a durable, cost-effective alternative to brick and wood shelter structures. Shipping containers have been approved as a mainstream building product since 2017, and SG Blocks says the process of retrofitting a container-based building is roughly 10% less expensive and as much as 50% faster than traditional construction methods.
The Appraisal Institute says environmental improvements to new and existing structures can benefit residential sellers and buyers. While the upfront costs can be steep, green homes may offer lower utility bills, eligibility for federal tax credits and potentially higher value upon selling.
Associated General Contractors of America Senior Counsel Leah Pilconis says AGC would like to see a streamlined National Environmental Policy Act process to expedite efforts and cut costs of projects with water impacts, but she notes that the Trump administration's executive orders on environmental permitting already are having an immediate effect. "We are seeing a lot of movement, and even more proposed rules coming that are intended to streamline environmental programs that are on the books," she says.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has approved erosion, sediment and stormwater runoff control plans for a 300-mile section of the roughly 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Project consortium leader Dominion Energy will now look to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its approval so construction can begin.
Forty-five states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs between September 2017 and September 2018, while 29 states and Washington, D.C., added construction jobs between August and September, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data released Friday. Association officials noted that the continued job gains were a sign of an exceptional business environment, but that difficulty in hiring qualified craft workers could increase contractors' costs and extend construction times. "Construction activity is expanding nearly everywhere, as only three states experienced a decline in construction employment over the past year," said chief economist Ken Simonson. "These results show that contractors remain upbeat about demand for projects going forward. However, further employment gains may be difficult, given low unemployment in most states and an inadequate pipeline for training future construction workers." Read full news release here.
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