Church, Movie Theater and Department Store Construction Costs

0 245 Market Intelligence

Among four industrial type-of-structure categories monitored by RSMeans, a “typical” warehouse had the largest year-over-year increase in construction costs in August 2008 (+3.5% on average for 25 major centers). Next in line came an auto sales garage (+3.3%), followed by a three-story factory and an aircraft hangar (both +3.2%). As for dollar-per-square-foot cost of construction, a three-story factory is most expensive. Among cities, New York was the leader in cost gains, year over year. 

Year-over-year Construction Cost Increases Range from 5.1% to 6.3%
According to the accompanying table and charts, a “typical” church had the largest year-over-year increase in construction costs in October 2008 (+6.3% on average for 25 major centers) among four type-of-structure categories recently monitored by RSMeans. Next in line came a three-story department store (+5.5%), followed by a movie theater and a one-story department store (both +5.1%).

As for the actual dollar-per-square-foot cost of construction, a church is the most expensive to build. A movie theater is second-most expensive, with a three-story department store in third spot. A one-story department store is the cheapest to build. The range between the lowest and highest cost structures is significant − a markup of nearly 60%.

New Orleans Leads in Year-over-year Cost Increases
            Among the 25 cities shown, New Orleans was the leader for greatest year-over-year percentage increases in construction costs, ranging from +7.0% for a movie theatre and one-story department store to +8.3% for a church. Denver, Miami, Dallas, Baltimore, San Francisco and Atlanta formed the next tier of largest percentage gains. Rounding out the Top 10 were Washington, Seattle and Houston.

Large cities in the middle of the pack for percentage cost increases were Chicago, Los Angeles, Kansas City, New York, Phoenix, St. Louis and San Diego. Major cities with the lowest year-over-year construction cost rises were Detroit, Boston, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

City Rankings Based on Level of Construction Costs
A ranking of cities based on the dollar-per-square-foot level of construction costs may be quite different than one based on year-over-year percentage change. Therefore, it is well to consider which cities are the most expensive in which to build and which are relatively cheaper.

New York is the costliest city in which to build in the United States, with San Francisco in second place. Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia form the next tier. Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Diego and Seattle are also relatively expensive.

Detroit, St. Louis, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Denver are in the mid-range for dollar-per-square-foot construction costs. Also in this grouping is the nation/'s capital, Washington, which lies just slightly below the middle of the pack. Major cities that are relatively low cost are Atlanta, Miami, Phoenix, Houston and Dallas.

It is also informative to provide some regional construction cost comparisons. For example, it costs 27% more to build in Chicago than in Atlanta and there is a similar spread between high-cost Philadelphia and low-cost Miami. Finally, the premium between the highest-cost city, New York, and the lowest-cost city in the table, Winston Salem, is +67%.


by Alex Carrick

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