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Reports show slowing growth in South

Post Time:Nov 12,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:47

Part four of the e-glass regional construction report Read Glass Magazine’s 2008 forecast here

Although the South was voted to have the healthiest construction market in a Nov. 13 e-glass poll, recent economic indicators show growth is beginning to slow in the region. Architectural billings, which serve as a six-month forecast for construction activity, have started to weaken, said Kermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects, in a Nov. 21 AIA release. “Regionally, billings growth continued to slow at firms in the Northeast and South,” he said. Tammy Sayre, contract administrator for TSG Industries Inc., Valdosta, Ga., says she has already started to see growth ebb. “In the last half of the year, it seems that fewer invitations to bid are coming in,” she says, and the office market has shown the greatest drop off. John Lynn, senior sales manager for the curtain wall division of SPS Corp., Raleigh, N.C., agrees: “The market is not like it was last year; not as busy. Last year the market was crazy. You couldn’t get a handle on everything that was going on. This year it’s different. But, all in all, it’s not dire straights.” The most recent edition of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, released Nov. 28, showed similar findings to the Architectural Billings Index. The anecdotal economic indicator showed commercial construction activity and real estate growing at a slower rate or flat—not yet a decline—in the South and Southeastern United States. Reports from the Fifth District out of Richmond, Va., covering the Atlantic Coast from Maryland to South Carolina, showed mixed results. Office vacancies varied throughout the region, as did construction, with retail construction up in Richmond, Virginia Beach and Columbia, S.C., but down in Washington, D.C. Construction was steady or down slightly in the Sixth District out of Atlanta, covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and most of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. “Most Florida contacts continued to report fewer projects in the pipeline compared with last year at this time, while outside of Florida there were scattered reports of declining backlogs,” according to the report. The 11th District out of Dallas, covering Texas, and parts of New Mexico and Louisiana, showed slowing growth in commercial leasing, but robust construction for the multifamily segment. Although the region isn’t seeing the same boom it did just six months ago, Sayre says big university projects and multi-use developments continue to keep TSG busy, with the Florida market leading the way. “We specialize in curtain wall and are one of the few curtain wall subcontractors that has Florida products approval,” she says. “We are written into a lot of specifications and as a result are pretty busy just because of what we do.” Suzanne Donohue, director of sales for General Bronze, Deerfield Beach, Fla., says the impact-resistant glazing market drives their business. “Most of the work we do is rehab—installing impact-resistant glass on existing buildings,” she says. “Right now we are booming with [rehab] business, mainly in high-rise residential.” Read about the West market here, the Midwest here and the Northeast here.

—By Katy Devlin, e-Newsletter Editor, e-glass weekly

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