Chicago — Englewood Construction forecasts that 2014 will witness an increase in mixed-use projects, along with an uptick in fine dining options.
Chicago — Englewood Construction, a Lemont, Ill.-based general contracting firm, has forecasted an upward growth in large-scale, new construction projects, as well as an uptick in fine dining and hospitality construction for 2014.
“While small-scale projects and commercial construction renovation jobs sustained the industry in recent years, big projects are coming back as the economy continues to improve,” says William Di Santo, president of Englewood Construction. “Next year, we will see a number of large, ground-up commercial construction projects that were once sidelined coming back into the fray.”
Mixed-Use Leads the Way
Commercial construction activity is not being spearheaded by typical projects of the past. The focus is no longer on new retail power centers, but rather, large mixed-use construction projects that have a considerable amount of retail. A number of substantial projects will break ground in 2014, including the long-anticipated New City development at Halstead Street and Clybourn Avenue in Chicago, which will include 360,000 square feet of retail, a 199-unit apartment building and 40,000 square feet of medical office space. Developers recently received a $182 million construction loan to initiate the project.
“Many developers are sitting on large parcels of land that they want to put into use, but plans have been altered to reflect the new economic reality,” says Di Santo. “While retail will still be a big portion of these projects, developers will also incorporate apartments, hotels and office space to make the project more viable to receive funding. We expect to see several of these projects initiated in the Chicago-area this year.”
The Future of Fine Dining
Englewood’s 2013 prediction of the rise of fast-causal restaurants came to fruition. In addition to that trend, there has also been a recent increase in fine dining restaurants, according to Di Santo.
This year, Englewood completed a new Season’s 52 on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, as well as renovations and expansions on several high-end steak houses in downtown Chicago.
“We expect new restaurant construction to continue at a robust pace in 2014,” said Di Santo. “However, it won’t be just in the form of the fast-casual concept. Fine dining, white-tablecloth establishments are making a big push as the restaurant industry is performing remarkably well. This activity will continue as restaurants still offer an experience and entertainment value that the online market cannot compete with.”
Hotel developers Check In
The downturn put a halt on new hospitality construction projects in recent years. However, as the travel industry improves and hotel occupancies increase, hoteliers are looking to expand. According to Smith Travel Research, downtown Chicago hotel occupancy rose to 75.5 percent in the first nine months of 2013 — the highest point since the recession.
“Numbers like this are encouraging Chicago hotel developers and national hotel chains to initiate new hospitality construction projects on land they have been sitting on for years,” says Di Santo. “We predict that many developers will get off the sidelines and hospitality construction will become a significant portion of the 2014 commercial construction market.”
SOURCE: Englewood Construction