While some 2017 construction data reflects sluggish overall growth, some individual construction projects that recently broke ground or were proposed over the past few weeks seem to point toward a better construction climate down the road.
The latest Value of New Construction data from the U.S. Census Dept. showed year-over-year total construction activity through August at only +2.5% over 2016 and the Dodge Momentum Index, a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects, fell -8.4% September. But along with large downtown renovations either underway or planned in Milwaukee, Detroit, San Diego, New York, and Washington, D.C., there’s more than $30 billion in mass transit construction in the news, almost $4 billion in data centers and many innovative mixed-use projects all over the United States.
Particularly striking is the construction activity in downtown Milwaukee, which includes the recently opened new $450 million headquarters for Northwestern Mutual, the $524 million arena for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, and more than 100 other construction projects, the most since World War II according to the Milwaukee Downtown business development group.
The mass transit projects are also of interest because of their scope and size. There’s the $15 billion bullet train that would link Dallas to Houston; a $4.7 mass-transit project that would link San Jose, CA, to San Francisco’s BART system; a mass-transit link between Boston’s South and North Stations valued at more than $4 billion; and smaller rail systems in Minneapolis and suburban Washington, D.C.