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Wasatch Front Activity Report

Contractors depending mostly on public-sector work to survive

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High-Profile Projects

Many significant, high-profile projects are in the works, with several others planned to begin this year.

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The LDS Church’s estimated $1.5 billion-$2 billion City Creek Center is progressing on schedule, with a completion expected by mid-2012.

The first major building of City Creek – Richards Court Condominiums – completed in May. The 32-story high-rise features 90 high-end units and is being built by Okland Construction of Salt Lake City.

A 5,400-stall underground parking garage is also nearing completion, according to LDS Presiding Bishop David Burton. The rest of the 23-acre, multiuse project will include retail and housing, along with a new Harmon’s grocery store.

Besides Okland, Jacobsen Construction and Big-D Construction, both of Salt Lake City, are building portions of City Creek.

Other noteworthy building projects along the Wasatch Front include the $130-million USTAR project at the University of Utah (Layton Construction), the $30-million Trolley Square Renovation project in Salt Lake (Okland), the estimated $200-million Montage Resort at Deer Valley (Layton) and the $68-million Utah Museum of Natural History at Rio Tinto Center in Salt Lake (Big-D).

Thorn says the heavy-highway market is robust, with a myriad of much-needed major highway projects currently underway, including the $1.25-billion Interstate 15 CORE project in Utah County (Provo River Constructors), the $600-million Mountain View Corridor from Salt Lake to Utah County (Kiewit-Clyde JV) and the $108-million 114th South Interchange/Expansion (Ames-Wadsworth Bros. JV).

“Our heavy-highway contractors are for the most part staying busy,” Thorn says. “UDOT has $4 billion of work under contract, and fortunately we have a legislative group that is supportive of free enterprise and realizes the importance of having a good transportation system.”

One highly anticipated project contract expected to be awarded in October is a new National Security Administration data center located near Camp Williams in northern Utah County. The project, which was recently short-listed to five teams – three of which are led by Utah general contractors – is expected to cost between $1 billion and $2 billion.

Outlook for Rest of 2010

Construction executives and firm owners are trying to remain optimistic in the face of unquestioned adversity and an unknown future.

“We’ve done a good job diversifying,” Hunt says. “Our ability to shift from one market to another has been huge for us. A lot of contractors, when times are good, just pick the low-hanging fruit, and they’re not planting seeds for the future.”

Jim Gramoll, president of Gramoll Construction of North Salt Lake, says, “We still have work out there because of the relationships we’ve had. Our reputation has allowed us to get work in this tough time, and that’s the single greatest edge we’ve had.”

Layton says, “We’ve had a really good first quarter because we’ve specifically chosen to diversify our business model and expand our expertise into different project types. We’re trying to position ourselves to be where the new economy is going to be.”

Hogan says his firm will make it through this recession with “patience and time. If we manage our company properly, we’ll have opportunities to have success. There are no quick fixes. We have to be committed to patience and developing our resources.”


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