Archive for Wednesday, November 3, 1999


November 3, 1999


Booming values of construction contracts in September were enough to put Douglas County 5 percent ahead for the first nine months of the year, according to a new report.

What a difference a new school makes.

The value of contracts for future construction in Lawrence hit $13.2 million in September, or double the $6.6 million contracted a year earlier, according to the latest report from the F.W. Dodge Division of The McGraw-Hill Cos.

Contracts for nonresidential construction -- a category that includes commercial, manufacturing, educational, religious and other buildings -- recorded the biggest jump. Builders signed $5.5 million worth of contracts in September for such work, up from the $281,000 recorded in September 1998.

The new total includes at least $3.1 million toward construction of the new Langston Hughes School in western Lawrence. The Lawrence school district approved contracts in September for heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, masonry, drywall and other work.

The $6.7 million elementary school is scheduled to open in August along the north side of 15th Street, about midway between Wakarusa Drive and the South Lawrence Trafficway.

And there's plenty more work to come.

"Now everybody's ready to go for houses," said Grant Ackerman, senior vice president for Universal Construction Co. in Kansas City, Kan., the district's construction manager. "Anytime you build a new school, the area builds up fast."

F.W. Dodge said that contracts for residential construction in Douglas County increased 21 percent to $7.7 million in September, up from $6.3 million a year earlier. Residential buildings include single-family homes, duplexes and apartments.

The report also compiled year-to-date numbers, covering the first three quarters of 1999:

  • Nonresidential: $52.9 million, up 38 percent from $38.5 million a year earlier.
  • Residential: $62.5 million, down 12 percent from $71.2 million a year earlier.
  • Total: $115.4 million, up 5 percent from $109.7 million a year earlier.

The percentage change for contracts statewide during the first three quarters, compared with the same period in 1998: nonresidential, down 2 percent; residential, up 18 percent; nonbuilding (which includes roads, sewers, utilities and other items), down 18 percent; and total, up 3 percent.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is


Values of construction contracts signed during September throughout Kansas, as compiled by the F.W. Dodge Division of The McGraw-Hill Cos.:

Nonresidential: $135 million, down 35 percent from $209.1 million a year earlier.

Residential: $172.2 million, up 25 percent from $138.2 million a year earlier.

Nonbuilding: $40.1 million, down 82 percent from $221 million a year earlier. (Includes roads, bridges, sewage and water supply projects, airports, utilities and communications systems.)

Total: $348.3 million, down 39 percent from $568.4 million a year earlier.

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