mixed-use development in Seattle WA, and the $115 million River Landing apartment complex in Miami FL. In October, the top five metropolitan markets ranked by the dollar amount of multifamily starts were – New York NY, Miami FL, Washington DC, Seattle WA, and Los Angeles CA. During the first ten months of 2017, the top five markets ranked by the dollar amount of multifamily starts, with their percent change from a year ago, were – New York NY, down 1 percent; Los Angeles CA, down 13 percent; Chicago IL, down 23 percent; Washington DC, down 13 percent; and Atlanta GA, up 26 percent. Metropolitan areas ranked 6 through 10 during the first ten months of 2017 were – San Francisco CA, down 2 percent; Miami FL, down 50 percent; Boston MA, down 20 percent; Seattle WA, down 20 percent; and Dallas-Ft. Worth TX, down 37 percent. Single family housing held steady in October, continuing to stabilize after losing momentum in early summer. During the first ten months of 2017, the pattern by five major regions for the dollar amount of single family housing was the following – the South Atlantic, up 11 percent; the South Central, up 8 percent; the West, up 7 percent; the Midwest, up 5 percent; and the Northeast, down 1 percent.
Nonbuilding construction in October was $188.2 billion (annual rate), up 27 percent from the previous month. The public works categories as a group climbed 51 percent, with the boost coming from a 506 percent surge for the miscellaneous public works category that includes such diverse project types as pipelines, mass transit, and site work. The largest miscellaneous public works project entered as an October start was the $3.0 billion expansion to the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania and Virginia. Also entered as an October start was the $750 million Epic natural gas pipeline in Texas. During the first ten months of 2017, natural gas and petroleum pipeline starts were reported at $20.2 billion, up 83 percent from the same period a year ago. Also boosting the miscellaneous public works category in October was the $825 million airport guideway and rail station project in Pearl Harbor HI, the $477 million Canarsie Tunnel rehabilitation project in New York NY, and a $444 million portion of California’s high-speed rail project in the Bakersfield-Visalia area. If the miscellaneous public works category is excluded, the remaining public works categories as a group would have been down 9 percent in October, as the result of a 13 percent drop for highway and bridge construction as well as a 46 percent plunge for sewer construction. Despite the decline, highway and bridge construction in October did see the start of several noteworthy projects, including the $756 million Chesapeake Bay Bridge Parallel Tunnel in Virginia Beach VA and a $259 million highway construction project in Houston TX. During the first ten months of 2017, the top five states in terms of the dollar amount of highway and bridge construction starts were – Texas, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, and New York. States ranked 6 through 10 were – Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, and Illinois. On the plus side for public works construction in October were gains for river/harbor development, up 35 percent; and water supply construction, up 21 percent. The electric power and gas plant category in October dropped 55 percent, retreating sharply after a moderate 10 percent gain in September. Large power plant projects that reached the construction start stage in October were led by two wind farms in Texas, valued at $330 million and $250 million respectively.
The 1 percent increase for total construction starts on an unadjusted basis during the first ten months of 2017 was due to mixed behavior by the three major construction sectors. Nonresidential building increased 8 percent year-to-date, with institutional building up 18 percent while commercial building slipped 7 percent. The manufacturing building category was up 31 percent so far in 2017, aided by this year’s rebound for petrochemical plant starts. Residential building grew 1 percent year-to-date, with an 8 percent gain for single family housing slightly outweighing a 13 percent drop for multifamily housing. Nonbuilding construction year-to-date fell 7 percent, the result of a 5 percent rise for public works and a 38 percent drop for electric utilities/gas plants. By region, total construction starts during the January-October period of 2017 revealed this pattern compared to a year ago – the Northeast, up 23 percent; the South Atlantic, up 3 percent; the West, up 2 percent; the South Central, down 5 percent; and the Midwest, down 12 percent. The 5 percent decline in the South Central reflected in part the comparison to last year that included $6.2 billion for two liquefied natural gas terminals, while the 12 percent decline in the Midwest reflected in part the comparison to last year that included the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline and Chicago’s $900 million Wanda Vista tower.
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