Largest Construction Projects Total Nearly $1.7 Billion in Arkansas

Commercial construction activity declined for a second consecutive year in Arkansas. The dollar total for the state's largest active commercial projects fell shy of $1.7 billion, an 8 percent drop from 2009.

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Helping bolster the total is an updated valuation of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, which remained atop the list and increased from $100 million to $150 million.

This improved number will have to do for now but remains an estimate. Those in the know on Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton's project have been sworn to secrecy.

Also helping stabilize this year's dollar total was the South Wing Expansion at Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock by Nabholz Construction Corp. of Conway. This project jumped from No. 35 at $16 million in 2009 to No. 2 at $84.8 million this year, as details of the job were sorted out.

The expansion is among 12 health care-related projects on this year's list totaling more than $326 million. But the biggest category, with 46 entries, was education. K-12 projects accounted for 32 projects, more than double the 14 higher ed jobs.

Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock registered the most projects: 17 entries dominated by education-related work carrying a combined value of $278.6 million. The $55 million campus in Maumelle (No. 6) that will replace Oak Grove High School is the firm's biggest and the largest project in the K-12 category.

Nabholz Construction Corp. registered the second-largest tally at nine projects worth more than $178 million.

Ridge Construction LLC of North Little Rock, with its menu of apartment projects, and Kinco Constructors LLC of Little Rock followed with six projects each. CDI Contractors LLC of Little Rock and CR Crawford Construction Inc. of Fayetteville each have five projects on the list.

Six firms had four projects in the list, including four Little Rock concerns: Clark Contractors LLC, James H. Cone Inc., Flynco Inc. and East-Harding Inc. Rounding out this half-dozen are Delk Construction Co. of Bald Knob and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co. of Philadelphia, Miss.

Forty-seven different general contractors are represented on the list of largest commercial projects in Arkansas.

In years past, the cutoff for project valuations on the list has stood at $5 million. With that minimum, the 2009 list contained 123 active projects.

Only 95 commercial construction projects in 2010 were valued at $5 million or greater. Lowering the threshold to $3 million pumped up the total project count this year to 125.

Public projects for communities or the state (sans education and health care) provided a baker's dozen. The largest remains the Special Needs Unit at the Ouachita River Correctional Unit in Malvern (No. 4) at $72.5 million, administered by the Department of Correction.

Military work generated a dozen entries. National Guard facilities were home to eight of the projects, with the Little Rock Air Force Base contributing two and Pine Bluff Arsenal one.

A wild card is development of the $5.7 million veterans' cemetery near Birdeye (Cross County) at No. 80. The largest is the $22.5 million Armed Forces Reserve Training Center in Jonesboro (No. 17) by W.G. Yates & Sons.

Another double-digit category is apartments at 10. The biggest apartment project is the $16.4 million Centerstone development in Conway by the hometown general contractor, Salter Construction Inc.

The projects are spread across the state in 53 communities. The double-digit cities are Little Rock with 19 and Fayetteville with 11. The VA Hospital Addition (No. 5 at $62.5 million) is the biggest Fayetteville project, overseen by Crossland Construction Co. of Columbus, Kan.

From there, the count drops to five projects each in Bentonville and Conway, where the $20.7 million project (No. 19) at Conway Regional Medical Center is largest.

Four projects each are home in Cabot, El Dorado, Hot Springs and Jonesboro. The largest projects in these cities are the High School project in El Dorado, No. 8 at $43.2 million; the Humanities/Social Sciences Building/Central Plant at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, No. 15 at $25 million; the Student Residential Building at the Arkansas School for Math & Science in Hot Springs, No. 27 at $13.1 million; and the Armed Services Readiness Center in Cabot, No. 45 at $9.9 million.