We are coming into the final stretch of 2013, a year that has been rather good for the commercial construction industry. Activity was up for retail and restaurant construction and once-stalled commercial construction projects are finding themselves back on 2014 bid sheets for the best commercial general contractors.
At Englewood Construction, we were fortunate to bring on several new employees to manage the increased 2013 commercial construction activity and we are currently gearing up to have a very active general construction bidding cycle to close out the year. This year, I thought I’d take a look at our lengthy, active bid sheet in making 2014 commercial construction industry trends and predictions in the coming year.
Big is back
Small scale projects and commercial construction renovation jobs have sustained the industry in recent years, but as the economy continues to improve, we are starting to see some large, ground-up new commercial construction projects that were sidelined come back into the fray.
This commercial construction activity is not being spearheaded by the usual suspects of the past, such as new retail power centers and the like, but rather, large, impressive mixed-use new construction projects that have a considerable amount of retail.
In our own backyard, numerous Chicago mixed-use construction projects will be going up next year. The long-anticipated project at the former Children’s Memorial Hospital site in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood is set to break ground in the summer. This new mixed-use construction project will include multifamily and 161,000 square feet of retail. Also in Chicago, the New City Development at Halstead Street and Clybourn Avenue will break ground with 366,954 square feet of retail. The former Purple Hotel site in Lincolnwood, Ill. is currently being repositioned as “The Shoppes at Lincoln Pointe,” a $130 million mixed-use project. In Glenview, Ill., construction has begun on the $30 million, 102,876-square-foot Glen Gate retail and restaurant project. A 450,000-square-foot outlet mall in Country Club Hills that was sidelined by the economic downturn is breaking ground next year. And in the Milwaukee area, the 270,000-square-foot Mayfair Collection, a retail project, has broken ground in Wauwatosa, Wis.
We know that there are more large-scale 2014 commercial construction projects in the pipeline as well. Stay tuned for some upcoming commercial construction news from Englewood on this subject.
Upscale restaurants move forward
Protected from on-line competition, restaurants still deliver a prime experience that consumers want and we expect new restaurant construction to continue its robust expansion in 2014.
Last year, we touted the rise of fast-causal restaurants. That prediction came to fruition and we expect steady new restaurant construction projects to continue into 2014. However, it won’t be just in the form of the fast casual concept. Fine dining, white-tablecloth establishments are making a big push as the restaurant industry is performing remarkably well.
As one of Chicago’s best restaurant contractors, Englewood completed a new Season’s 52 on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile as well as renovations and expansions on several high-end steak houses in downtown Chicago. Several of these restaurants, such as David Burke’s PrimeHouse and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, were named on Chicago Magazine’s 20 Best Steak Houses.
2014 Hotel developers check in
The downturn pretty much put a halt on new hospitality construction projects in recent years, but as tourism numbers boost back up and hotel occupancy continues to climb, we expect new national hotel development to ramp up as hoteliers are planning on expansion. Today, active hotel owners have access to pretty much any flag they want; it’s just a matter of finding the right deal and margin.
According to Smith Travel Research, downtown Chicago hotel occupancy rose to 75.5 percent in the first nine months of 2013—the highest point since the recession. Numbers like this are encouraging Chicago hotel developers and national hotel chains to initiate new hospitality construction projects on land they have been sitting on for years. We predict that many developers will get off the sidelines and 2014 hospitality construction will become a significant portion of the 2014 commercial construction market.
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