Tally of Largest Commercial Building Projects in Arkansas Hits $2.4 Billion

A rendering of the future Arkansas Children's Northwest hospital in Springdale
A rendering of the future Arkansas Children's Northwest hospital in Springdale
The $25 million Hyatt Place Hotel & Convention Center is among eight Jonesboro entries in this year’s list of commerical projects.
The $25 million Hyatt Place Hotel & Convention Center is among eight Jonesboro entries in this year’s list of commerical projects.

The dollar total of largest commercial construction projects in Arkansas registered $2.4 billion this year. The tally reflected a 1 percent decline ($25 million) from 2015.

The largest newcomer to the list is Arkansas Children’s Hospital in northwest Arkansas, No. 2 at $98 million.

The Springdale hospital is among 14 health care-related projects on this year’s list of 127 projects, including three that tied for No. 125.

“We didn’t realize there was so much demand in northwest Arkansas for the services ACH provides,” said Greg Williams, CEO of Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway. “It’s neat to be a part of the project. We’ve been a big supporter of ACH and what they do.”

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Nabholz is the general contractor on ACH’s northwest Arkansas project, one of 33 entries on this year’s list for the company.

“In terms of volume, it will be a high-water mark for us as a company,” Williams said. “We’re excited about the opportunities we have going into 2017 and looking into 2018.”

The Nabholz projects are scattered across the spectrum of construction sectors and reflect an uptick in health care-related jobs and private-sector work.

“We’ve seen those come back,” Williams said. “I think that’s the big news.”

He said projects in both areas were stymied earlier by wait-and-see clientele watching how changes produced by the Affordable Care Act might affect their bottom line before launching construction.

Education-related construction remained a strong sector, with K-12 jobs accounting for 31 projects on this year’s list.

Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock is overseeing the five largest K-12 projects on this year’s list: the nearly complete North Little Rock High School, No. 3 at $95.3 million; Robinson Middle School and Mills High School in Little Rock, tied for No. 8 at $37.6 million each; Pinnacle View Middle School in Little Rock, No. 10 at $33.3 million; and School of Innovation in Springdale, No. 15 at $24.1 million. The Robinson and Mills projects are among the new entries.

“We’ve just started on those two projects,” said Scott Copas, president and CEO of Baldwin & Shell Construction. “We’ll finish up work on North Little Rock in December.”

The general contracting firm also is on hold for two big K-12 projects in Jacksonville and Bryant.

Work on an $80 million-plus construction package for the Jacksonville-North Pulaski County School District is expected to start next year. A 7.6-mill increase in property taxes to help fund the work passed last year.

A new high school complex is the main course on a menu that includes a new elementary school to replace the Arnold Drive and Tolleson facilities. Rounding out the list are new multipurpose buildings for a quartet of elementary schools: Bayou Meto, Dupree, Pinewood and Taylor.

A proposed $109 million package for the Bryant School District is awaiting the outcome of a March 14 millage vote.

The list of projects to meet growing enrollment includes a new elementary and middle school and a new cafeteria, fine arts building and physical education facility for the high school as well as security improvements for the Bryant schools. A proposed 4.9-mill increase to help fund the package was rejected in 2015. This time, voters will decide on a 3.6-mill increase plus refinancing existing bond debt to help pay for the improvements.

College campus projects contributed nine more entries to the count of education-related construction work on this year’s list.

The biggest of the bunch is the Arts & Design Building for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, No. 27 at $16.6 million. It’s among the Nabholz stable of projects.

Multifamily projects delivered a dozen entries to this year’s list. The highest ranking was the upscale, 196-unit Landmark Apartments project, No. 16 at $23 million. Little Rock’s VCC is the general contractor.

Eight of the 16 apartment projects are in motion by ventures associated with North Little Rock developer Keith Richardson.

The combined dollar total of the Ridge Construction LLC and Richardson Builders LLC projects tops $66 million.

Geographic Dispersion
No other city had more than Little Rock’s tally of 23 projects. The largest was finishing work on the renovation and expansion of the Robinson Center Music Hall Auditorium and conference center, No. 5 at $61.4 million.

Fayetteville produced 14 projects, with the Walton Arts Center as the city’s biggest, No. 31 at $16 million. Little Rock’s CDI Contractors LLC is the general contractor on the project as well as the work at Robinson.

Conway hosted eight projects. Robins & Morton of Birmingham, Alabama, is overseeing construction of the biggest project in Conway: Acadia Healthcare’s behavioral health hospital, No. 23 at $19 million.

Jonesboro is home to seven entries. The largest is a Nabholz project, the St. Bernards Medical Center Surgery Tower, No. 4 at $80 million.

Benton and Rogers each had five entries. CDI’s Riverside Park project was the largest in Benton, No. 7 at $43.5 million. The biggest in Rogers is Primrose Retirement Village, No. 25 at $17.8 million, overseen by Fayetteville’s C.R. Crawford Construction LLC.

“It feels real similar to last year,” said Cody Crawford, president of C.R. Crawford Construction. “Northwest Arkansas is still going strong,”

Benton and Washington counties were home to 30 projects on this year’s list. Following Fayetteville’s 14 entries were Bentonville with seven, Rogers with five, Springdale with three and Lowell with one.

Among the state’s 75 counties, Pulaski produced the most projects with 29. In addition to the capital city, contributions were made by North Little Rock, three; Sherwood, two; and Maumelle, one.