CORRECTED: State's Largest Construction Projects Tally Falls to $1.5 Billion

(Note: Corrections have been made to this story. See the end of the story for more.)

Construction contracts totaled almost $1.52 billion among the state's largest active commercial projects during 2011. That figure reflects a drop of more than 10 percent from a year ago and marks the third straight year that Arkansas commercial construction activity has fallen.

Education-related construction remained a dominant category for business, with 45 entries accounting for almost half this year's list. Eighteen of the projects were tied to higher ed, and the balance was devoted to K-12 schools.

(Click here to purchase a spreadsheet version of the this week's list of top construction projects.)

The $59.8 million high school campus in Maumelle is the biggest of the education projects, moving up to No. 3 this year from No. 6 in 2010.

Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway tallied the most projects in the 2011 list. These 16 Nabholz contracts carried a combined value topping $319 million. This body of work was dominated by education-related construction, supported by a mix of corporate and health care buildings.

Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock registered 11 projects, with a combined value of almost $250 million. Nearly half those projects were among the 10 biggest on this year's list.

All five of these Baldwin & Shell contracts involved school work, ranging from the $29 million Honors Housing project at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to the $59.8 million Maumelle High School.

Three Little Rock general contractors each recorded six projects on the list, James H. Cone Inc., Dave Grundfest Co. and Clark Contractors LLC.

William Clark, CEO of Clark Contractors, said things were shaping up nicely for 2012 and that he thought his firm was over the financial hump after opening its doors for business in 2009.

"We have been selected to build a $20 million hotel project in Dallas, and we're chasing an $18 million hotel in Omaha, Neb.," Clark said. "We were recently awarded the contract for the [$17 million] McIlroy Building on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville."

He sees a more varied menu of bid opportunities heading into the new year, a departure from the concentration of institutional work that kept general contractors going the past few years.

"We've been looking at more private money projects than we have in a long time," Clark said. "I hope that's a sign that things have bottomed out and are improving.

"We're thinking our revenue is going to be around $100 million in 2012. We're very pleased and grateful."

Three other firms had five large projects each this year, VCC of Little Rock, Kinco Constructors LLC of Little Rock and Tate General Contractors Inc. of Jonesboro.

"We haven't had any slowdown in work," said Wayne Tate, president of Tate General Contractors. "We could've had some of those projects half done by now, but we were waiting on the architects to get the drawings to us.

"That tells me the architects are too busy, and that northeast Arkansas is doing fairly well."

Formed in 1970, TGC does most of its work within a 100-mile radius of Jonesboro. Four out of five of the company's projects on this year's list were linked with education.

Another trio of companies each registered four jobs in the 2011 list of largest commercial projects: Hill Cox Corp. of Hot Springs, East-Harding Inc. of Little Rock and Dayco Construction Inc. of Damascus.

Projects overseen by 35 general contractors made this year's list, down from 47 companies in 2010. The number of projects valued at $3 million or more fell to 104, down from 129 a year ago.

The completion of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville opened the No. 1 spot to the $126.5 million NEA Baptist Hospital complex in Jonesboro.

The project by Hoar Construction LLC of Birmingham, Ala., is among a dozen health care contracts bearing a combined value of more than $386 million in the 2011 list of largest commercial projects.

Cities registering double-digit counts of projects in this year's roster were a rarity. Little Rock had 19, followed by Jonesboro at nine and Fayetteville at eight.  Construction at the Little Rock Air Force Base boosted Jacksonville's total to five.

Batesville, Bryant and Conway each have four projects in the list, while Hot Springs, Monticello and North Little Rock each have three.

Seven cities were home to a pair of large commercial projects: Bentonville, Clarksville, Maumelle, Paragould, Rogers, Springdale and West Memphis.

(Correction, Dec. 6, 2011: What is actually the largest commercial construction project currently underway in Arkansas, the NEA Baptist Health Hospital Complex, was left out of the data provided by F.W. Dodge. The linked list has been updated to reflect that correction and other corrections have been made to the story to incorporate that project and its value. The list has also been updated to reflect a value of $52.6 million for the Southwest Power Pool project in Little Rock. The original list included only a portion of that project.)