- The Des Moines, Iowa, metro area saw the value of commercial building permits soar to $1.1 billion in 2018, according to The Des Moines Register. This is an increase from 2017’s $800 million and only the second time that the value of permits has topped $1 billion.
- Des Moines led the area with 463 commercial permits worth $364 million, driven by two hotel renovations for $40 million and $50 million, a $29 million downtown parking garage next to one of two new planned high-rises, and other projects. Other cities leading the area in 2018 permits are West Des Moines (227 permits; $348 million), followed by Ankeny (131 permits; $136 million) and Altoona (101 permits; nearly $113 million).
- Urban renovations and suburban data centers were responsible for much of 2018’s commercial activity and are expected to push 2019’s combined permit value as well. New construction for Microsoft and Apple data centers, for instance, is scheduled to gear up this year.
Pat Lynch, senior managing director for CBRE Group's data center solutions division, told Construction Dive earlier this year that locations like the Des Moines metro area often offer big companies like Microsoft, Facebook and Apple “winning combinations” of low power, reasonable land costs and incentive packages, which make them more attractive for data center sites. Huntsville, Alabama, for instance, won a $750 million Facebook data center in part by offering the company a $6.6 million incentive package, including $2 million in waived permit fees and $4.6 million of infrastructure work around the project.
Other small metros have seen similar mini-building booms without the benefit of big tech companies.
Downtown commercial and residential development is the driving force behind what could be a $1 billion boom for contractors and material suppliers in Grand Forks, North Dakota. A North Dakota DOT-funded reconstruction of two main roads through downtown will be included in this activity.
Allen County, Indiana, which includes the Fort Wayne metro, recorded more than $1 billion of construction activity in both 2017 and 2018, driven by several sectors — commercial, residential, new construction and renovations — although commercial permits alone, as of November 2018, totaled $586 million.
Another Iowa metro region, Cedar Rapids' Linn County, has also experienced a great deal of development in the past few years, totaling about $1.6 billion since 2016. That number includes at least 125 projects valued at $1 million or more, according to city officials, and represents both public and private spending. While the figures include commercial, industrial, financial, manufacturing and residential projects, big contributors were a $46 million credit union headquarters and a $5 million medical marijuana plant.