After a decrease in the number of construction cranes in use across major cities in the U.S. and Canada, Rider Levett Bucknall’s Crane Index has found an increase in cranes to start 2021.
Toronto still towers high with the most cranes in any North American city, with 208, up from 124 in Q3 of 2020. Of the 14 cities tracked by RLB, seven saw an increase in the number of cranes from the last report.
Four cities are “holding steady” with no or only slight decreases in the number of cranes, while three saw what RLB described as “significant decreases” — though that could be attributed to the completion of major projects, it said.
The increase in the number of cranes is a good sign, according to RLB.
“The crane count appears to have rebounded from its previous dip, exceeding its count from this time last year,” the report says.
Other findings from the report include:
- Commercial projects contributed to an overall increase of 24% in active cranes, making up 12% of the overall count.
- The number of tower cranes installed at residential and mixed-use projects increased to 69% of the overall count.
- Mixed-use had the second highest number of cranes dedicated to a sector, making up 20% of the overall count.
- Residential projects account for 49% of all cranes counted.
Toronto boasted the most cranes in these cities. Washington, D.C., surpassed Seattle as the city with the most cranes in the U.S. The city had 45 cranes, compared to Seattle and Los Angeles, which tied for second with 43.
San Francisco saw the biggest dip in the number of cranes in the city, falling from 24 cranes in Q3 2020 to 11 in Q1 2021. The drop likely reflects the completion of several apartment and condominium projects in the city; however, a COVID-induced decrease in occupancy rates for residential, office, restaurants and retail has depressed new starts, the report said.
Highlights from the top three cities include:
Washington, D.C.: Residential and healthcare developments have picked up speed in D.C., and three towers — a hotel and two apartment buildings — are being built simultaneously. Commercial and mixed-use sectors have slowed due to COVID-19, though construction on the Frederick Douglass Bridge is projected to open late in 2021 and the National Air and Space Museum is set to re-open in 2022 — indicating cranes will stick around to complete those massive projects.
Seattle: Seattle’s crane count remained unchanged from Q3 2020 to Q1 2021, and the residential sector accounted for a majority of cranes. Dozens of new projects are starting as others near completion, ensuring a balanced construction forecast, RLB said. Meanwhile, there is a significant amount of commuter transit work underway to the north of the city.
Los Angeles: Los Angeles saw an increase in its cranes — from 41 to 43 — erected at new infill housing towers in the downtown, Koreatown, East Hollywood and Culver City areas. Multiple mixed-use and commercial projects are nearing completion, and several hotels are slated to open later this year. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which was delayed due to the pandemic, is scheduled to open in September 2021.
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