Houston construction slows in December


The value of residential construction starts in the Houston area dropped by 18 percent in December compared with a year earlier, according to Dodge Data & Analytics. Photo: Katherine Feser

A slowdown in home and apartment construction in the Houston area showed up in recently released monthly stats tracked by Dodge Data & Analytics.

The value of residential construction starts dropped by 18 percent in December to $610.5 million, down from $743.9 million in December 2014.

For the year, the residential tally was down slightly to $9.9 billion, a 1 percent drop from 2014.

The value of construction started on nonresidential buildings – including office, retail, hotel, healthcare, churches and other categories – also fell.

Commercial construction starts totaled $467.1 million in December, compared with $666.6 million in December 2014. For the year, the total dropped to $6.7 billion from $22.9 billion in 2014.

The commercial numbers, which show more volatility from year to year than the residential tallies, were expected to drop, according to the Greater Houston Partnership. A surge in chemical plant construction pushed commercial construction activity to historic highs in 2014.

A bright spot is retail construction. In the Houston area, 4.53 million square feet of retail space is projected to be built and opened in 2016, according to Houston-based Wulfe & Co. That’s up from 3.4 million square feet in 2015 and 2.4 million in 2014.

Low oil prices and cutbacks in the energy sector have stemmed the construction of office buildings as the market works through available space.

There are 22 office projects under construction totaling 7.4 million square feet in the Houston area, according to CBRE. A little more than half of that space is leased, and another 7.3 million square feet is available for sublease.

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