Nonresidential Building

Nonresidential building in October climbed 20 percent to $216.9 billion (annual rate). Manufacturing plant construction soared 147 percent, led by the start of these three projects – a $1.7 billion fertilizer plant in Iowa, a $1.7 billion natural gas processing plant in West Virginia, and a $1.5 billion gasification plant in Louisiana that will produce industrial liquid and gas products from petroleum coke.

New plant construction in Louisiana has been particularly strong through the first 10 months of 2013, up 265 percent compared to last year, with Louisiana ranked first among the 50 states in the dollar volume of manufacturing starts.

The commercial categories combined rose 3 percent in October, helped in particular by strong percentage growth for stores, up 29 percent; and warehouses, up 22 percent. The store category in October was supported by a $120 million expansion to an outlet mall at the Foxwoods casino complex in Ledyard, Conn., while warehouses benefitted from the start of a $50 million warehouse park in Edison, N.J.

Offices and hotels retreated in October, falling 8 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Despite its October decline, office construction did include the start of several noteworthy projects, such as a $150 million office building in San Francisco, a $115 million office tower in Boston, and an $83 million corporate headquarters building in San Diego.

On the institutional side, the educational building category grew 4 percent in October, rising for the second month in a row and reaching its strongest volume so far in 2013.

There were four large high school projects valued at $75 million or greater that reached groundbreaking in October, with two in Connecticut ($94 million and $75 million), one in Texas ($92 million), and one in Maryland ($86 million).

The healthcare facilities category in October dropped 20 percent after its sharp upturn in September, although October did include the start of several large hospital projects – a $550 million hospital in Chicago, a $230 million hospital in Reading, Pa., and a $130 million hospital in Bangor, Maine.

Like educational buildings, the dollar amount for healthcare facilities was down 1 percent through the first 10 months of 2013 from the prior year. The smaller institutional categories in October showed a mixed pattern, with declines for churches, down 26 percent; and public buildings, down 19 percent; but gains for amusement and recreational facilities, up 12 percent; and transportation terminals, up 30 percent.

The amusement category was helped by the $305 million expansion to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, while the transportation terminal category was supported by the start of the $136 million Hobby Airport International Concourse in Houston.

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