- Dodge Data & Analytics reported that a six-year streak of increases in Chicago's construction starts will likely come to an end in 2017, according to Crain's Chicago Business.
- Dodge estimates total construction starts in Chicago this year will total $12.5 billion, down 7% from 2016, an outcome driven by an 11% decrease in residential construction spending to $6.5 billion. Dodge projects another 3% drop in total starts for 2018, partially attributable to rising construction costs.
- Some Chicago contractors told Crain's that the pace of residential construction during the last few years was unsustainable. But they also pointed out that total construction in 2017 was robust, particularly in the area of commercial tenant modernization and upgrades, a market that they said should continue to grow in 2018.
In November, the buzz in the Chicago construction industry was around the number of cranes dotting the skyline, 60 to be exact. Curbed Chicago reported, however, that the number could include cranes that are used to erect and dismantle bigger cranes, the ones actually doing the heavy lifting. Curbed pegged the true working crane count closer to 33.
Rider Levett Bucknall North America reported in March that Chicago had 31 cranes in use on residential projects alone as of November 2016. That number represented the biggest crane count of the 12 U.S. cities the company studied. For both commercial and residential projects, Seattle claimed the top spot with 62 active cranes.
The projected decrease in activity, however, doesn't mean Chicago is done with major projects. Earlier this month, First Hotel Group said it is planning to build a $100 million, 222-room hotel at Navy Pier, a waterfront attraction popular with tourists. The as-of-yet unnamed Curio Collection by Hilton development will feature a rooftop restaurant and views of Lake Michigan.
Another ambitious project, albeit in the preliminary stages, is what the city has referred to as an "express transit system" between downtown Chicago and O'Hare International Airport. Elon Musk said his Boring Company will be one of the bidders, and the SpaceX and Tesla entrepreneur said that he will offer a Loop system, differentiated from a Hyperloop by not drawing a vacuum during operation. Musk said he was not sure if the system he designs will use rails or not, but it could feature the high-speed, car-carrying sleds he has suggested for other projects.