NATIONAL REPORT—Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) has published its Crane Index for North America, a biannual report that tracks the number of operating tower cranes in 14 major cities across the U.S. and Canada.
According to the Q1 2020 summary, this survey marks the fifth consecutive increase in crane counts. Of the 14 cities surveyed (including the addition of Las Vegas), five experienced an increase in their respective crane counts. Five had a decrease in counts while the remaining three hold steady.
According to the report, residential and mixed-use projects continue to take the lead in sectors; combined, they make up 70% of all cranes. Hospitality projects experienced a nearly 50% decrease in cranes nationwide.
The report highlighted three cities with regard to cranes in the hospitality sector. In Las Vegas, the number of tower cranes has diminished over the last six months as projects are completed, and with a major development—Raiders Allegiant Stadium—slated to finish in late July, future construction plans look shaky, with the erstwhile drivers of the local market—the hospitality and gaming sectors— are being hard-hit by fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
New York City lost a single crane from the last count, but construction continues to be steady, with gains—possibly tempered in the future—in the commercial (up 38%) and hospitality (up 19%) sectors. For the near-term, an increase in construction is predicted, based on new building permits posted in Manhattan and the continuing work at the Hudson Yards development.
Phoenix tripled its cranes since the last index, experiencing a balanced expansion of building sectors, with mixed-use, educational, hospitality and tech projects all currently under construction. Activity is centered in Downtown, with some work located in the Midtown/Uptown area.
Given the significant impact that COVID-19 and the governmental mitigation measures that have been applied to contain it are having on the economy as a whole, it is probable that this pandemic will drive a recession, which will have an impact on future crane counts, according to the report. Current construction projects may also be affected due to shutdowns, or workers not reporting to job sites for a variety of reasons including illness, illness of family members, or even fear of taking public transport.
Julian Anderson, president, RLB North America, noted, “Virtually all hospitality projects that are significantly into construction will continue to completion, including those paused by COVID-19 state or city ‘shelter-in-place’ orders. Some projects that are early in construction (e.g. have just broken ground) may be halted as developers and lenders try to assess the long-term damage to the hospitality market(s).”