editorial

Year-to-Date: Big Jump

For the first three months of 2015, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were up 28 percent from the same period a year ago.

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New Construction Starts: Big Gains Year-to-Date

New construction starts in March retreated 13 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $633.3 billion, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. The decline followed strong gains in January (up 9 percent) and February (up 17 percent), when construction was lifted by the start of several massive projects valued each in excess of $1 billion, including four liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal projects, a petrochemical plant, and a solar power facility.

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Residential Building

Residential building in February grew 5 percent to $245.7 billion (annual rate), making a partial rebound after an 8 percent decline in January. Multifamily housing registered a strong February, jumping 46 percent. There were nine multifamily projects valued in excess of $100 million that reached groundbreaking in February, led by the following – the $500 million Flushing Commons apartment complex expansion in Queens, N.Y., a $300 million apartment high-rise in New York, and the $262 million condominium portion of the Four Seasons mixed-use tower in Boston.

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Year-to-Date

For the first two months of 2015, total construction starts on an unadjusted basis were up 34 percent from the same period a year ago. If projects in excess of $1 billion are excluded, the result would be more moderate gains for total construction – up 10 percent in February on a seasonally adjusted basis relative to January, and up 8 percent on an unadjusted basis during the first two months of 2015 relative to the same period a year ago.

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Nonresidential Building

Nonresidential building, at $224.9 billion (annual rate), surged 42 percent in February after a relatively weak performance in January. The manufacturing building category was a major contributor, soaring 663 percent in February with $3.0 billion for the estimated construction start cost of the Formosa ethane cracker and propane dehydrogenation plant in Point Comfort, Texas.

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