Disappointing Results – Brightening Forecast?

Budgeting for owners/developers and bidding at the subcontractor level has ramped up in recent weeks. Among the general contractors, as many as ten major projects are being budgeted right now for a variety of owners. Construction is getting underway on several large projects that have been in development for a year or more. These developments raise optimism for 2015 and hopes that the fourth quarter will be a boost going into the coming year.

Among those ramping up, Massaro Corp. is doing the demolition and abatement at the former Allegheny Health Dept. site to start the 389-unit Ambling Apartments in Oakland. Mosites is doing the prep work for the $22 million Cohon Center expansion at CMU. Also at CMU, Mascaro is supposed to start work on the $18.5 million Hamburg Hall addition. Mascaro was awarded the Union Trust Building and is awaiting the green light for the $32 million Heinz Field South Plaza expansion in January. Up north of Zelienople, the Jackson Twp. supervisors have approved the 350,000 sq. ft. FedEx Ground distribution center, to be built by Jackson Taylor Contractors.

Setting optimism aside in favor of reality (or at least results) the construction activity through the first 3 quarters of 2014 remains disappointing. The Pittsburgh Homebuilding Report for Jan-Sept shows residential construction down 30% from last year, mostly due to a drop in apartment construction. In part this is a reflection of the unusually high activity levels in 2013, but housing construction in general is softer. Another 1,200 apartment units are expected to get underway in 2014 but the market will still fall short of 2013.

pgh housing 2014-3

Non-residential construction is off 15.4% from the first nine months of 2013, according to Tall Timber Group’s research. Contracting through Sept. 30 totaled $1.92 billion compared to $2.27 billion during the same period in 2013.


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