CARTI Campus Tops Slimmer Projects List

The dollar tally of large construction projects throughout the state declined in a big way during the past 12 months. The total value of the biggest commercial jobs dropped from more than $1.4 billion in 2012 to about $1.1 billion this year.

That change of more than $350 million reflects a 24 percent fall. Behind those numbers was a combination of factors: projects scheduled to start in 2013 were moved to the back burner instead, and the flow of work to bid on simply began drying up.

“Our pipeline got empty last year, but it will fill back up,” said Mike Webb, president of Ideal Construction Co. of Crossett.

(GET THE LIST: See this week's list of the top construction projects in Arkansas in either a PDF or spreadsheet format.)

This year’s list, like last year’s, ranks projects that are valued at $4 million or more. Thirteen of the 20 largest projects on the 2012 list were deemed to be completed, including the mammoth $173 million NEA Baptist Health Hospital Complex in Jonesboro.

A new health care entry replaced it as the largest commercial project in Arkansas. Site work has begun on the $50.7 million CARTI Campus in west Little Rock.

The 37.1-acre location along Riley Drive was purchased a year ago for the cancer treatment complex. CARTI bought the undeveloped land near the John Barrow exit off Interstate 630 for $5.1 million.

The seller was 630 Alleyway LLC, led by Sam Alley, CEO of Little Rock’s VCC general contracting firm. Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway is overseeing construction of the new CARTI campus.

The job is among 14 Nabholz projects that made this year’s list, the most of any contractor.

Education-related construction was a dominant sector of activity among the 2013 roster of projects. Of the 102 listed, 35 are associated with school districts or colleges/universities.

Two big school contracts composed of multiple projects joined CARTI among this year’s top five. The bigger of the two was $39 million worth of work for the Lake Hamilton School District in Garland County (No. 3).

A multipurpose arena, middle school, agricultural sciences building, and elementary and junior high additions highlight the construction package. Hill & Cox Corp. of Hot Springs is overseeing the job.

The new North Little Rock High School campus weighed in at $36 million (No. 4), a project landed by Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock.

The job was among four large construction projects Baldwin & Shell has in motion for the North Little Rock School District. A trio of elementary schools (Boone, Lakewood and Amboy) all topped $11 million. (For more on NLRSD construction, click here.)

The jobs were among seven Baldwin & Shell posted on this year’s list, a number matched by the apartment projects underway by North Little Rock’s Ridge Construction LLC.

The biggest apartment project on the list is The Trails at Rainbow in Bentonville, No. 12 at $20 million. Lindsey Construction Co. of Fayetteville is in charge of bringing the development on line.

Crossland Construction Co. of Columbus, Kan., registered the second-highest project total at eight. The firm’s biggest active job in Arkansas is the $16 million Bentonville Community Center (No. 15).

Little Rock’s CDI Contractors LLC has four sizable projects in the hopper. Construction could begin on all four during 2014.

The list includes the extensive renovation/update of the historic Robinson Center in downtown Little Rock, estimated at north of $70 million; Pulaski Technical College’s Fine & Performing Arts/Humanities Center in North Little Rock, estimated at more than $25 million; the Razorbacks Basketball Practice Facility at the

University of Arkansas at Fay-etteville, $25 million; and the Visual Arts Building at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, $15 million.

“These are projects we’ve been working on for the last year that kept getting moved back,” said Lloyd Garrison, president and CEO of CDI Contractors. “It’s a good sign that there is more activity. I see things getting better as a general rule.”