Signs Point to Commercial Construction Turnaround

Signs Point to Commercial Construction Turnaround

Commercial construction has been one of the hardest hit industries during the ‘Great Recession,” but there are some indicators that show the business is starting to return.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported in June that major life insurers – which often create commercial construction loans – are starting to ease terms and lower interest rates for commercial real estate loan portfolios. Some architects are starting to see a turnaround as well.

Thomas Fridstein, the head of global architecture for AECOM, is one believer.

“We are seeing the private sector picking up,” Fridstein told CNN last month. “I feel like we’ve been through the worst, we’ve sort of hit the trough of the recession and things are on the upturn. We’ve had some major commercial clients contacting us about projects potentially starting up again, so that’s a very positive sign.”

Some states have seen a decrease in unemployment in the construction industry, including Maryland, where the backlog for commercial construction projects has increased 20 percent this year. Associated Builders and Contractors chief economist Anirban Basu told the Baltimore Business Journal that he sees that increase as “a sign that non-residential construction’s rebound is spreading beyond government-financed projects and is increasingly private-sector motivated.”

That’s an encouraging sign for an industry that saw a 16 percent decline in 2009 and expected to see another 12 percent slide in 2010 by the AIA Consensus Construction Forecast Panel. But that forecast may be revised thanks to the current indicators, which could begin the road to recovery.

“It hasn’t been easy in the past two years, but we are hopeful that this really is the start of the turnaround,” CM Black President Emmitt Black said. “We’re looking forward to serving more customers.”