The value of new construction starts advanced 3% in June to $446.8 billion, according to the F.W. Dodge Division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. Nonresidential building rebounded after a quiet May while nonbuilding construction, public works and utilities, maintained its upward trend of recent months.

June’s nonresidential building figures climbed 14% to $169.7 billion, with almost all sectors reporting increases. Shopping centers and stores were up 22%; warehouses up 23%; and hotel construction grew 18%, boosted by the start of a $157 million project in New York City. Office construction posted an 8% gain, thanks to a $162 million project in Chicago, a $136 million project in Boston, a $115 million project in St. Louis, and an $80 million project in Atlanta. According to Robert A. Murray, vice president of economic affairs for Dodge, “The office market over the past year has witnessed an increased contribution coming from downtown high-rises, while suburban projects have shown signs of leveling off. In addition, office development is generally exhibiting a greater degree of discipline now than in the past, which should help keep the threat of overbuilding in check.”

Nonresidential totals were helped by activity in the institutional sector, specifically a 133% increase in the social and recreational category. Several large convention centers were started: a $490 million project in Orlando, FL: a $421 million project in Boston; a $127 million project in Houston; and a $102 million project in Knoxville, TN. “The current year has seen a surge of convention center work, which during the first six months was five times the dollar amount reported in 1999,” Murray said. Other categories showing growth were health care facilities, up 9%; schools, up 5%; and public buildings, up 1%. On the down side, were church construction, slipping 9%; passenger and freight terminals, down 35%; and manufacturing plant construction, down 29%.

Electric power plants, considered nonbuilding construction, were up 55%, helped in part by the start of seven power plants valued at $100 million or greater in Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Texas. “Last year, electric power plant construction jumped 147%, and the current year is on track to surpass 1999’s robust amount. A growing number of states have now enacted legislation deregulating electric utilities, and the result has been a surge of construction that is becoming increasingly widespread,” said Murray.

Total construction by region was as follows: South Atlantic, up 5%; West, up 2%; Northeast, down 1%; South Central, down %5; and the Midwest, down 7%.