Industries

Building momentum

Virginia is seeing construction activity in nearly all sectors

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Print this page by Paula C. Squires

Modern skyscrapers, grocery stores, apartments, hotel renovations and mixed-use developments are among the many projects in Virginia’s construction pipeline.

Downtown Richmond is seeing a renaissance in its city skyline with two new office towers to be occupied by SunTrust Bank and Dominion Resources Inc. Tysons and Reston Town Center in Northern Virginia are other hot spots for high-rise commercial development, especially in areas close to the Washington Metro’s Silver Line.

Yet, grocery retailers are the ones who seem to be in an all-out war to see who can build stores the fastest. Wal-Mart, Kroger and Wegmans all have been expanding in Virginia, with Wegmans preparing to enter the Richmond market with two stores. Another Wegmans is planned for the ground floor of Capital One Financial Corp.’s new, 14-story corporate headquarters going up in McLean. 

New grocery store competitors are adding thousands of square feet of retail space. They include two German discount grocers: Aldi, which is building stores in the Richmond and Roanoke markets, and Lidl, which has scooped up five store sites in the Richmond area.

Another new competitor is Publix Super Markets. The Florida-based grocer plans to put stores in Bristol and Henrico County.

The hotel industry also is seeing robust activity, in new developments and major renovations. A $75 million face-lift for the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach is underway, with the historic hotel set to reopen later this year or in early 2017. 

The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center announced a $6.3 million renovation in February to spruce up its 330 guestrooms. In Leesburg, Lansdowne Resort also is in the midst of a multimillion dollar renovation of its 296 rooms as part of the resort’s 25th anniversary.

Business also is picking up for residential contractors as the housing industry gradually works its way out of the slump that followed the Great Recession. 

The good news is that in 2015, “there were nearly twice as many metro areas adding construction jobs … as there were areas losing jobs,” Ken Simonson, chief economist for The Associated General Contractors of America, said recently.

The Arlington-based trade group reported that Virginia saw a 4 percent increase in construction jobs, 7,800, from December 2014 to December 2015. “Considering current economic trends and our members’ forecasts, many firms should continue hiring workers this year as demand expands,” Simonson said.

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