Consultants

2020 U.S. Mega Construction Projects & Carryover of Work Into 2021

Due to the blows to the economy last year from coronavirus impacts, undertaking mega-sized construction projects presented owners with riskier decision-making.

The number of big-dollar projects (i.e., of a billion or more each) fell dramatically, to only 11 from 70 in 2019. The number of big footprint projects (i.e., of a million square feet or more), however, stayed about even in 2020 with the year before, at 26.

In this article, we’ll look at the nature of 2020’s mega projects according to the two definitions and discuss some interesting contrasts. For example, billion-dollar projects, especially when they’re in the energy or transit fields, don’t necessarily have enclosed flooring of a million square feet.

Nor is it the case that million-square-footage projects run up a billion dollars in capital expenditures. Many ultra-large low-rise structures are fulfilment or data centers that are assembled in the same manner as light industrial or commercial buildings, at a low cost per square footage.

There’s a good reason it’s important to know about the projects enumerated in accompanying Table 1. They are so massive in scope that while ground may have been broken on them last year, work will be proceeding onsite well into this year, and possibly into 2022 as well. ‘Megas’ provide a base for jobs, material supply and ancillary services.

2020’s mega-sized undertakings according to the billion-dollar definition were dominated by transit, steel mill, and motor vehicle projects. In transit, there were high-speed rail systems in Los Angeles and Washington state; in steelmaking, new mills in Texas and Kentucky; and in automotive, a GM electric battery plant in Ohio and a Tesla ‘giga-factory for cyber-trucks’ in Texas.    

The steel capacity expansions are welcome as they’ll relieve some of the supply shortages and pricing pressures that have concerned builders recently.  

2020’s mega-sized ‘go-aheads’ according to the million-square-footage definition were heavily weighted towards distribution centers, data centers, car plants and stadium projects (the latter being in Missouri and California).

While so many other companies, caught up in the pandemic, have taken a wait and see approach to capital spending commitments, the high-tech giants, with their coffers full of cash, have been considerably bolder.

Amazon in 2020 ‘green-lighted’ vast square-footage projects in Mississippi, Texas and New York.

Google in Nebraska and Facebook in Tennessee launched new data center work.

Wegmans hopped aboard the distribution center shopping cart in Virginia.

Tables 1 and 2: 2020 U.S. Mega Starts Defined in 2 Ways:
(1) $1 Billion or More Each = 11 Projects; (2) 1 Million Square Feet or More Each = 26 Projects

  Start Date State City Type of Structure Project Name  $ Billions
  Jan-20 California Los Angeles Engineering/Civil Automated People Mover (APM) Landside Access Modernization Prog, at LAX $2.00
Apr-20 Missouri Saint Louis Institutional Next NGA West (New Western Headquarters/National Geospatial Intelligence Agency) $1.75
May-20 Texas Taft Industrial Steel Dynamics Steel Mill / Sinton $1.00
  May-20 Washington Federal Way Engineering/Civil Federal Way Link Extension (FWLE) Design Build $2.50
  Jul-20 California San Dimas (east L.A.) Engineering/Civil Foothill Gold Line Light Rail Extension – Glendora to Montclair $1.40
Aug-20 Ohio Warren (near Akron) Industrial Ultium Cells Manufacturing Campus (batteries for electric vehicles) GM $2.30
Sep-20 Texas Austin Industrial Tesla Cybertruck Gigafactory – Austin  $1.10
Sep-20 California Sacramento Institutional Richards Boulevard State of California Office Complex $1.00
Oct-20 Kentucky Brandenburg Industrial Nucor Corporation Manufacturing Mill (Steel)  $1.70
  Nov-20 New York New York Commercial One Madison Avenue Office Addition $2.30
  Nov-20 Texas Dallas Engineering/Civil I-635 LBJ East Section $1.74

 

  Start Date State City Type of Structure Project Name  Sq Ft Millions
  Jan-20 Maryland Bethesda Institutional P114 Medical Center Addition/Alterations at Naval Support Activity, Bethesda 1.0
  Jan-20 Tennessee Memphis Industrial Project Iris, Seefried Industrial Properties 4.2
  Jan-20 Mississippi Olive Branch Industrial Amazon Fulfillment Center, Legacy Park, Hillwood Investments 1.0
  Feb-20 Nebraska Omaha Commercial Project Wizard – Google Data Center / Omaha 2.5
  Feb-20 Washington Bellevue Commercial 555 108th Avenue Office Tower 1.0
  Apr-20 New York Bayberry Industrial Project Eagle Distribution Facility / Clay (thought to be for Amazon)  3.8
  Apr-20 Illinois Chicago Commercial Salesforce Tower Chicago (Wolf Point South Tower)  1.5
Apr-20 Missouri Saint Louis Institutional Next NGA West (New Western Headquarters/National Geospatial Intelligence Agency)  1.9
  Apr-20 Texas Pflugerville Industrial Amazon Fulfilment Center – Project Charm / Pflugerville  3.8
May-20 Texas Taft Industrial Steel Dynamics Steel Mill / Sinton  1.0
  Jun-20 New York Liverpool Industrial Amazon Distribution Center – Liverpool  3.7
  Jun-20 Texas Richmond Industrial Project Miriam – Amazon Fulfillment Center  3.4
  Jul-20 North Carolina Durham Residential Alta Davis 1.1
  Jul-20 Indiana Lafayette Industrial Subaru of Indiana Automotive Expansion / Lafayette  1.0
  Jul-20 Missouri Saint Louis Commercial Major League Soccer Stadium / Saint Louis 1.0
Aug-20 Ohio Warren (near Akron) Industrial Ultium Cells Manufacturing Campus (batteries for electric vehicles) GM  2.8
  Aug-20 Tennessee Gallatin (NE of Nashville) Commercial Project Woolhawk / Facebook Data Center  1.0
  Aug-20 California San Diego Commercial San Diego State University (SDSU) Aztec Stadium  1.0
Sep-20 Texas Austin Industrial Tesla Cybertruck Gigafactory – Austin  4.0
Sep-20 California Sacramento Institutional Richards Boulevard State of California Office Complex 1.5
  Oct-20 Virginia Beaverdam Industrial Wegmans Virginia Headquarters & Distribution Center  1.1
Oct-20 Kentucky Brandenburg Industrial Nucor Corporation Manufacturing Mill (Steel)  1.5
  Oct-20 Texas San Antonio Industrial Project Star / Fulfillment Center, Seefried Industrial Properties  3.8
  Nov-20 Tennessee Gallatin (NE of Nashville) Commercial Gallatin Industrial Data Center  1.0
  Nov-20 California Visalia Industrial Visalia Logistics Center / Warehouse  1.3
  Dec-20 New York Brooklyn Residential 625 Fulton Street Mixed-use  1.8

★ Indicates project appears in both listings. The importance of these projects is that while they may have been initiated last year, onsite work will be continuing in 2021 and perhaps beyond.

Data source and tables: ConstructConnect.

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