Spokane Journal of Business

Busy construction season projected for new year

Scarcity of some materials, workforce challenges could slow activity, observers say

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-Erica Bullock
The Post Street Bridge restoration continues in downtown Spokane. In all, the city plans nearly $100 million in projects this year.

The commercial construction sector had a strong start in 2021, and the 2022 construction season will bring continued growth of warehouses, manufacturing, and distribution centers, industry observers here say.

Cheryl Stewart, executive director of the Associated General Contractors Inland Northwest chapter, says there’s plenty of work for the foreseeable future, and she adds that most contractors feel confident about next year.

“We’re going to put out a lot of projects—as many as we can build with the people we have,” Stewart says.

Stewart says she expects building materials will remain costly but will level out in 2022, and the availability of materials will become more of a challenge for builders than the prices of materials. Her main concern is over a lack of workers, she says. 

“Across the board, the supply chain and the lack of workforce is impacting everything,” Stewart says.

Joel White, executive officer of Spokane Home Builders Association, says labor shortages and limited land availability will continue to challenge the residential construction industry.

White says that material prices could level out, however, the new coronavirus variant could disrupt prices again next year. Demand for residential construction also could slow in 2022 if interest rates rise.

According to data provided to White by The Construction Monitor, single-family detached permits in Spokane County increased 6% from January to November 2021 compared with the year-earlier period. Spokane County duplex permits increased 32%, and apartment and condominium permits increased 21%.

Permits for 3,086 total units were issued in Spokane County between January and November, an 18% increase, compared with the year-earlier period.

Public works construction projects in Spokane next year include a $9 million rebuild of the Thor-Freya couplet in conjunction with the ongoing construction of the $1.5 billion North Spokane Corridor, according to Kyle Twohig, director of engineering services for the city of Spokane.

New public works projects in 2022 will total $80 million. Along with ongoing construction, the total value of public works projects in the city of Spokane in 2022 will be nearly $100 million, Twohig says.

Twohig says the 2021 construction season has been relatively good and more predictable than in 2020. 

“Other than the major surprise of having a landslide in the core of our city, most everything else has been proceeding as planned,” Twohig says, referring to the landslide in the Peaceful Valley neighborhood, which the city expects to finish repairing next year. 

Work also will continue on the $18.5 million Post Street Bridge replacement, he says.

Also in 2022, a section of Riverside Avenue from Division Street to Wall Street will be reconstructed as part of a $4 million project. A $17 million Cochran Basin stormwater project also will move forward next year and is expected to be completed in spring 2023.

Twohig says the city expects supply chain issues will continue to impact construction activity next year, although he adds, “We have a better idea of where they are going to affect us and will do our best to mitigate the impacts.”

Spokane Public Schools projects slated for next year include the $31 million new 5,000-seat stadium on Dean Avenue, across from The Podium indoor sports complex, north of downtown. 

Additionally, the Denny Yasuhara Middle School, in northeast Spokane, and the Pauline Flett Middle School, in northwest Spokane, are expected to be completed in August for an anticipated cost of $44.5 million each. A third new middle school on the southside of Spokane, Carla Peperzak Middle School, is scheduled to open in August 2023.

—Erica Bullock

Erica Bullock
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Reporter Erica Bullock has worked at the Journal since 2019 and covers real estate and construction. She is a craft beer enthusiast, who loves to garden and go camping with friends.

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