Orders jump 50% as Miami construction nears boom's level
By Patricia Hoyos
Contracts for future construction in South Florida jumped 50% in February from the same time last year, the research and analytics unit of McGraw-Hill Construction reported Tuesday, with at least one local construction company citing its best pace ever.
"Things are starting to move," said Richard Horton, president of the Florida Atlantic Building Association. "Even though it's slow, there's a bright light. Things are turning around. There's opportunity to start new construction."
Still, he said, obtaining financing for constructions continues to be a challenge for many developers.
In February, $326 million in contracts were signed for construction as opposed to the $217 million in February 2011, McGraw-Hill Construction reported.
Included in the report were contracts for nonresidential and residential construction in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Mr. Horton said Miami-Dade is doing better than the rest of South Florida, but not by much.
In addition, since the beginning of the year construction has increased by 22% in comparison to the same time period in 2011, according to the research findings.
Tom C. Murphy, vice president of pre-construction services for Coastal Construction, said his firm's pipeline of work is up about 50% from the height of the market in 2006 — the best Coastal has ever done.
He said both the hospitality and the residential sector have been picking up, especially in areas along the coast. About 80% of the projects Coastal is looking at are on the water, he said.
Reflecting the construction industry's bounce back up, Miami-based Adonel Concrete, South Florida's largest independently-owned concrete company, announced Tuesday it has acquired the assets of Fort Lauderdale-based Modern Concrete Products Inc., which will mark the company's fifth location in South Florida.
Adonel president Luis Garcia said in the past 45 days the company has hired 30 new employees to keep up with demand in the three counties it serves.
"This month has been the best month ever since 2009," he said. "We see a lot of activity. A lot of our customers are landing jobs. The timing is right."
Experts agree that the residential market is recovering faster than the nonresidential market.
Mr. Horton said that as people are beginning to see the residential inventory on the market evaporate, they see opportunity for new projects, especially new condo buildings.
"I think last count there were 26 high-rise condos that were being built or [being] considered to be built," he said.
But, he said, construction of new single-family homes will probably lag for another two years.
However, Mr. Garcia said, the market is booming for custom homebuilders in areas like Pinecrest and Key Biscayne as well as the high-end market, which is faring well.
"We see the residential market coming out very strong," he said. "I think our residential market died in 2007, and for the past three months we have doubled our residential [work]."
On the nonresidential side, Mr. Horton said, the office market continues to be saturated but the retail market is starting to pick up at a steady pace.
McGraw-Hill Construction also reported that contracts for future construction statewide in Florida increased in February by 25% from last year and by 35% since the beginning of the year in comparison to 2011.
"I think what's happening is people are getting more confident," Mr. Horton said, "and the economy is starting to take off again, starting to move forward with a lot of projects."
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