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South Texas Report

Educational building, energy projects keep area busy

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While parts of the region continue to recover from Hurricane Ike, one year after the storm K-12 and university work continue to be strong building sectors in South Texas.

Skanska USA Building has constructed the Professional Zone, a classroom and library building, for the University of Texas - Brownsville/Texas Southmost College in Brownsville.
Photo: Courtesy of Skanska USA Building
Skanska USA Building has constructed the Professional Zone, a classroom and library building, for the University of Texas - Brownsville/Texas Southmost College in Brownsville.
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“We’re not different here than other areas of the state,” says Perry A. Vaughn, executive director of the Rio Grande Valley chapter of the AGC in Harlingen. “We’re starting to see and experience a slowdown, particularly on the private side.”

When work does surface, a substantial number of out-of-area and out-of-state contractors are bidding, Vaughn says.

Industrial activity in the coastal bend area, near Corpus Christi, is down, says Sam Beecroft, president of Beecroft Construction Co. in Corpus Christi.

“The refineries and petrochemical industry is not spending a lot of capital right now,” Beecroft says. “And commercial building is also down. There is less retail and health care.”

However, Beecroft adds some physicians are taking advantage of lower construction costs to get their projects moving.

“The subcontract market is extremely competitive and material prices are down, almost, across the board,” Beecroft says. “The cost of building any commercial building is significantly less than it was 18 months ago. Those who can start building now are reaping the benefits.”

On the education side, Marty Massey, vice president of operations for Skanska USA Building in Harlingen, says his firm has several university projects under way.

And Rene Capistran, South Texas vice president and regional manager for SpawGlass in Harlingen, says his company has not noticed a slowdown. “There is a lot of K-12 work, and most of our work is university work and some condo work,” Capistran says.

SpawGlass continues work on the $32-million, twin, 13-story towers at Los Corales Condominiums, a 68-unit development in The Shores of South Padre Island. Completion is scheduled for November, with 90% of the units sold. The developer, Paga Desarrollos of Mexico, has indicated plans to proceed, perhaps later this year, with another tower.

 

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