Largest Construction Projects Top $1.3 Billion

by George Waldon  on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 12:00 am  

The dollar value of large construction projects in Arkansas totaled nearly $1.4 billion, a one-year decline of 4.3 percent. It marks the fourth consecutive year the total has waned.

Despite the decline, the census of projects valued at $3 million-plus grew: 130 compared with 104 a year ago.

(Download the list of Largest Commercial Projects as a PDF for free or click here to purchase a spreadsheet version.)

Bob Shell, CEO of Little Rock’s Baldwin & Shell Construction Co., wonders if the declining trend will continue. Shell said the volume of new commercial building permits around the state was down.

“We’re not seeing a lot of activity here in central Arkansas,” he said. “Northwest is some better, but it’s slow all over the state. There’s a lack of retail and lack of office.

“The school building has dropped off some from where it was. It’s just pretty slow, especially in private development. People are afraid of the economy and the uncertainty of tax changes. I’m expecting everyone to sit tight and not do a whole lot.”

Education-related construction was the dominant category in this year’s list, with 53 projects split between college and K-12 jobs. Two high school projects made the top five in 2012.

The second phase of the Fayetteville High School (No. 3 at $46.1 million) is the largest active job in Arkansas by Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway. The $41 million up-grade and expansion of Greene County Tech in Paragould (No. 4) is the largest undertaking on the list by Baldwin & Shell.

Nabholz CEO Bill Hannah expects the K-12 market will become much slower as the wave of state-mandated facilities upgrades recedes.

“So much of the construction that has been funded to improve schools has been spent,” Hannah said. “We’ll probably never see what it was over the past six years.”

College-related construction accounted for 28 entries totaling more than $312 million, while K-12 tallied 25 projects valued at more than $305 million.

Apartments made a strong showing with 13 projects totaling $207 million. A dozen health care-related jobs added up to $354 million. That includes the No. 1 project, NEA Baptist Health System’s medical complex in Jonesboro. (See related story here.)



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