Here are some of the biggest news stories in March about commercial real estate and construction in Nashville and across the country.
According to The Tennessean, 10 tornadoes touched down across Middle Tennessee in the late night hours of March 2 and into the early morning of March 3, ranging from EF0 to EF4 on the Fujita scale. They were some of the strongest storms the country has seen in years. Almost 2,000 buildings were hit in Davidson county alone. The Nashville Business Journal reports the tornado hit almost 450 commercial buildings and more than three times as many residential properties. In Putnam County, about 700 homes were damaged by the tornadoes. In a March 23 story, the Wall Street Journal found engineers were still going house to house to examine structural and electrical issues. This March 31 photo slideshow includes promising pictures of recovery, clean-up and early stages of construction repairs in multiple neighborhoods throughout Davidson and Putnam Counties.
A whammy to tornado recovery efforts, COVID-19 cases also started to mount in Davidson County, prompting Nashville Mayor John Cooper to sign a ‘Safer at Home’ order on March 22 that limited tornado recovery efforts. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee declared a statewide stay-at-home executive order on April 2 due to the coronavirus, however, construction work is still considered essential, allowing projects to continue with adherence to a strict list of sanitation and social distancing guidelines. Nashville FOX 17 provides a full list of businesses and operating restrictions for the executive order, which includes many other essential infrastructure operations including commercial and housing construction, building management and maintenance, landscape management, distribution centers and more. The order remains in effect until April 14.
All was not lost in March in Music City, where according to Commercial Property Executive, two major deals involved hotels, potentially helped along by the Federal Reserve’s two rate cuts. This is good news as the hospitality industry faces steep challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In other big Middle Tennessee development news, Bank OZK loaned $278.9 million to the developer of the Broadwest project under construction in Midtown, Nashville Business Journal reported. Huntsville, Alabama-based Propst Development is spearheading the 21-story office tower, 42,000 square feet of retail and 34-story skyscraper with a Hilton Conrad hotel and 196 luxury condominiums. Work started at the 3.9-acre site, located within the 1600 block of West End Avenue. Overall estimated project cost: $540 million.
Building Design + Construction editors are tracking the architecture, engineering and construction industries in an online report: “COVID-19 and real estate: How the coronavirus is impacting the AEC industry.” The page features the latest news on COVID-19’s impact on the AEC industry and the real estate market. For example, one of the latest stories from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) points out that New Small Business Administration loan guidance appears to exclude many construction firms that employ fewer than 500 people. Construction officials are urging the agency to make it clear that these companies should also qualify for paycheck protection program loans, regardless of revenue.
For those curious about delayed projects due to COVID-19, a U.S. map is updated daily at Construct Connect. It also includes Canadian construction projects on hold. April 6 numbers totaled 2,469 delayed projects in the U.S. and 1,300 across Canada.
Check out this impressive list from Construction Dive, which highlights five noteworthy megaprojects still under construction during the coronavirus outbreak. The tally includes two of the NFL’s most expensive projects ever: Turner- and AECOM Hunt-managed $4.9 billion SoFi stadium, future home of the Rams and Chargers and the Las Vegas Raiders’ $1.9 billion Allegiant stadium headed by general contractors Mortenson and McCarthy. Amazon’s HQ2 Campus is still full steam ahead as Clark Construction continues work in Pentagon City, Virginia, the Washington Business Journal reported. HQ2 will have 67,000 square feet of retail when it opens in 2023.
In addition, Chain Store Age reported that Amazon has donated $1 million to four Washington, D.C. community foundations to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19. The non-profit groups will each use a portion as flexible funds for grants addressing food insecurity, housing and shelter, and providing emergency financial assistance.
Lastly, to help plan an uncharted future here are some handy tools: National Real Estate Investor has compiled a guide with resources gathered by North American commercial real estate industries on how to handle the continuing coronavirus outbreak. And Architect magazine’s U.S. map dashboard tracks in real time how states with a stay-at-home mandate are classifying construction and building material suppliers.