Two Florida projects with overall construction value greater than $1 billion among largest in nation to commence in September: Dodge

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Moffitt Cancer Center
Rendering of the Moffitt Cancer Center project

Two major Florida projects — with an overall construction value greater than $1 billion — were among the largest in the nation to commence construction in September, according to Dodge Data & Analytics.

The biggest — a $727 million, 1,122 mw Seminole Electric natural gas fired power plant in Palatka, was one of the nation’s largest nonbuilding projects.

Meanwhile, the $296 million first phase of the Moffitt Cancer Center Hospital in Tampa was one of the nation’s largest non-residential projects, according to Dodge.

The Seminole project will replace one of two coal-fired generating plants, reducing greenhouse gas emissions while boosting power wattage, a company representative said last year.

Project manager Thomas Reed was quoted by the Putnam Daily News as saying the Seminole Combined Cycle Facility is a major project for the company.  He said TIC-Kiewit would be the construction contractor.

The company expects an average of 200 workers per month in Putnam County over approximately 33 months. During peak construction work, there may be 500 or more workers on site. The construction payroll will total approximately $48 million, the published report said.

“There are about 20 of these type (of) plants being built in the entire world,” Reed said. “This is the most efficient power plant available on the market today. When this facility is up and operational, people will come to visit it from all over the world. It will be one of those, ‘Hey, we might want to build one of those,’ and they’ll want to come and see one that’s in operation.”

The overall value of the Moffitt Cancer Center project is estimated at $400 million, with a  surgical hospital that will expand its patient capacity by 65 percent and allow for about a third more procedures over the next decade, Tampabay.com reported in June.

The facility will be 10 stories high and nearly 500,000 sq. ft., located on a 20-acre plot across from the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Outpatient Center and construction will take about three years, the center said.

Nationally, total construction starts throughout the US dipped 18% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $667.7 billion, essentially taking back August’s gain, Dodge has reported in its monthly construction starts update.

While some of this decline is certainly payback from several large projects entering start in August, the drop in activity brought total construction starts below levels seen in June and July. Nonresidential starts fell 24%, while residential building dropped 21% over the month. Nonbuilding starts were 5% lower than August.

Year-to-date through nine months, total construction starts were down 14% from the same period in 2019. Nonresidential starts were lower by 26% and nonbuilding was down 18%, while residential starts gained 1%. For the 12 months ending September 2020, total construction starts were down 8% from the 12 months ending September 2019.

Nonresidential building starts were 19% lower and nonbuilding starts were 11% lower, while residential building starts rose 4% over the 12 months ending September 2020. In September, the Dodge Index fell 18% to 141 (2000=100) from the 173 reading in August. September’s Dodge Index was down 23% compared to a year earlier and 21% lower than its pre-pandemic level in February.

“That construction starts took a significant step back in September is disappointing, but also not surprising,” Richard Branch, Chief Economist for Dodge Data & Analytics, said in a statement.

“The economic recovery has lost momentum and is showing strain since support provided to consumers and businesses from expanded unemployment insurance benefits and the Paycheck Protection Program have expired. The worsening budget crisis for state and local areas has also slowed growth in public project starts, particularly in the face of a somewhat uncertain outlook for federal infrastructure spending programs. The road to recovery will continue to be uneven and fraught with potholes until a vaccine is developed and widely adopted across the U.S.”

Nonbuilding construction fell 5% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $176.3 billion. Highway and bridge starts rose for the third consecutive month, jumping 10%, while utility/gas plant starts moved up 21%. However, environmental public works and miscellaneous nonbuilding starts each lost 26% over the month.

The largest nonbuilding project to break ground in September was the $1.6 billion Guernsey Power Station in Pleasant City OH.

Through the first nine months of the year, total nonbuilding starts were down 18%. Starts in the highway and bridge category were up 2%, while environmental public works fell 10%, miscellaneous nonbuilding was down 33%, and the utility/gas plant category was 43% lower. On a 12-month rolling sum basis, total nonbuilding starts were down 11% compared to the 12 months ending September 2019. Starts in the street and bridge category were down 1%, while utility/gas plant starts were down 21%. Environmental public works starts dropped 6% in the 12 months ending September 2020 and starts in the miscellaneous nonbuilding category were 22% lower.

Nonresidential building starts were down sharply over the month of September, falling 24% to $177.4 billion. There was little good news in the detail: institutional starts fell 8%, manufacturing starts were 48% lower, and commercial starts dropped 36%. Only two building types posted a gain in September – retail and public buildings.

The two largest nonresidential building projects to break ground in September were the $330 million second phase of the Iceberg Towers in Burbank CA and the $330 million East Market Mixed-Use complex in Philadelphia PA.

sept dodge chart

Year-to-date through nine months, total nonresidential building starts were down 26%. Commercial starts declined 27%, while institutional starts were 18% lower. Manufacturing starts dropped a painful 56% compared to the first nine months of 2019. For the 12 months ending September 2020 total nonresidential building starts slid 19%. Institutional building starts were 16% lower, commercial starts down 19% and manufacturing starts plummeted 30% in the 12 months ending September 2020.

Residential building starts lost 21% in September, falling to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $314.0 billion. Single family starts dropped 6% in the month as multifamily starts tumbled 54%.

The two largest multifamily structures to break ground in September were the $130 million AJ Railyards Mixed Use building in Sacramento CA and the $130 million Sage Valley Apartments in West Valley City UT. The $125 million Avenir Mixed Use building in Jersey City was the next largest project to break ground.

Through the first nine months of 2020, residential construction starts were 1% higher than in the same period of 2019. Single family starts were up 6%, but multifamily starts were down 12%. For the 12 months ending in September, total residential starts were 4% higher compared to the 12 months ending September 2019. Single family starts were up 7%, while multifamily starts were down 5%.

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