Happy New Year to all of our Hard Hat Chat readers! As we flip the calendar over to 2018 this month, it’s a great time to share some of the commercial construction trends we predict will shape our work in the year ahead.
#1: Grocery Sector Ripe for Change
The grocery sector has been keeping a steady pace in recent years, but it is definitely an area to watch in 2018. With major players like Amazon entering the arena, and new technology and services for shoppers potentially impacting operations, many of our clients are taking a “wait and see” approach as they evaluate how these new factors play out in the market. Some new grocery trends, such as the popularity of curbside pickup and delivery services being introduced by many store chains, have real potential to change facility and infrastructure needs, which could result in an uptick in grocery construction and renovation projects.
Today’s grocery shoppers are also becoming accustomed to having a variety of store options available to them, and frequently make the rounds to multiple stores for specific items. In that climate, brands are more conscious than ever about honing their concepts and unique in-store experiences, paving the way for remodeling and expansion projects as they add new in-store features and services.
#2: Remixing the Mall
As traditional retailers continue to be impacted by e-commerce, there is an ongoing discussion about how physical stores and shopping centers can compete within the new dynamics of the market. In fact, our blog post last year on 2017 commercial construction trends highlighted how mall developers and operators are focusing on creating engaging experiences by adding restaurant-entertainment concepts. Now, in another shift, we’re seeing shopping center developers and owners go a step further in broadening the scope of tenants they will consider as compared to years past. For example, 20 years ago, it was rare to see a fitness center or medical office in a shopping center. But today, these businesses, as well as sports and recreations concepts, are viable options for filling mall space. As the nature of shopping centers evolve, commercial construction firms will continue to be busy reworking existing mall retail space for new purposes.
#3: Taking the Temperature of MOBs
We expect medical office buildings (MOBs) will hold strong opportunities in 2018, including ground-up construction as well as conversion and renovation of existing spaces. Industry-wide, construction activity is driven not only by increased demand for quality health care for the aging Baby Boomer population, but also the amount of acquisition activity – which means a large number of cosmetic remodel and refresh construction projects as MOBs are rebranded to reflect a new parent company. Likewise, with constant changes to the health care industry’s regulations for facilities, a renovation project often also entails making updates to meet new requirements for power, HVAC and exhaust systems, and egress.
#4: Balancing Upgrades with Upkeep for Senior Living
Senior living is another sector where we expect to see continued opportunity in 2018. In recent years, our activity in this market has been focused on working with clients to update existing facilities, add new amenities and retool common areas to be more competitive with new-construction senior housing options.
Now, we’re seeing many of those client relationships turn into long-term partnerships as owners and operators tap us to help them balance the ongoing upkeep of their facility with renovations to further upgrade the property and amenities to match expectations of the local marketplace. This is evolving into a great opportunity for us to pair the expertise of our Facilities Management group with our capabilities as a national commercial contractor. Clients are tasking us with looking at their full facility budget and coordinating with their architect and engineer to efficiently accomplish necessary upgrades and infrastructure improvements, in addition to cosmetic updates and remodeling projects to keep the property fresh and modern.
This big-picture approach is akin to the design-assist model we follow with many clients, and one that we always find to be a rewarding experience as we can truly collaborate with clients to achieve their goals.
We’re looking forward to a busy 2018, with exciting opportunities ahead for clients new and old. Be sure to check back with Hard Hat Chat throughout the year for more from our team on the latest commercial construction insights and trends.
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