Large Construction Projects Top $1.8 Billion in State

by George Waldon  on Monday, Apr. 13, 2009 12:00 am  

An aerial view in February captures the full -swing construction of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.

(To see the list of the largest commercial construction projects in Arkansas click here.)

Commercial construction activity in Arkansas dipped during the past 12 months based on a list of active $5 million-plus projects.

The total contract value declined 6.8 percent to just over $1.8 billion this year, but the number of projects – 122 – was shortened only by three compared with 2008. The totals during the past two years came even closer to the $2 billion mark.

The question on many minds is: What will next year look like? The disruption of service for the financial pipeline controlling the flow of construction dollars also affected timetables.

"It's certainly not business as usual," said Keith Richardson, a partner in North Little Rock's Ridge Construction LLC. "The credit markets tightened up during the past 10 months. But it's certainly been better during the last four months."

Loan underwriting that once took six weeks to complete bogged down to three months in some cases. Richardson said the normal rollout of projects was stymied, but he expects activity to increase as pent-up projects start moving again.  

"Our pipeline got backed up," he said. "We were closing loans every two months. There was a stretch where we didn't do any deals for six months."

Two prominent family names on the Arkansas Business scene are associated with this year's two largest projects: Walton and Rockefeller.

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, led by chief patron Alice Walton, landed atop this year's roster of large construction projects in Arkansas. The contract for the show-stopping Bentonville development exceeds $100 million.

Linbeck Construction Corp. of Houston is overseeing the work in a joint venture with Conway's Nabholz Construction. The museum design promises to be a crowd-pleasing Taj Mahal complete with its own reflecting pools.

The complex development, built around and incorporating Crystal Spring, also promises to grace the list of largest Arkansas construction projects for the next couple of years.

The $81.5 million Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute on the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campus in Little Rock, a holdover from last year, weighed in at No. 2. The project, directed by Little Rock's CDI Contractors LLC, was one of 11 health care-related construction jobs that made this year's list.

Education Top Sector
Education was the biggest sector, with 40 of the 122 projects divided among universities, colleges and K-12 schools. Ouachita Baptist University's $45 million student housing project in Arkadelphia, overseen by Little Rock's VCC, is the largest collegiate job.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.