Some Rumblings from the Outlying Markets

Coming into the summer in Pittsburgh the contracting market is not making anyone think it’s 2007 all over again. The projects in the pipeline are moving along and architects are busier but the benefit of that activity will be delayed until later in the year. Perhaps this would be a good time to look two hours north and south.

Erie Insurance Group is in the midst of a $100 million expansion of their headquarters in downtown Erie. They have hired Walsh Construction as CM for the program, which kicks off with a 1000-car cast-in-place concrete garage adjacent to the HQ. According to their preconstruction manager, Chris Burns, the project should bid imminently. CBT Architects are designing the remaining phases that will follow the garage next year.

Another multi-year program that is moving into a more active phase is the expansion and upgrading of the Hamot Medical Center in Erie, with an infusion of capital as a result of their partnership with UPMC. The plan is for roughly $300 million over the next 3-5 years.

Two hours south of town, Morgantown is heating up again. The big project on the boards there is the expansion of the WVU Hospital System, a $250 million program that will include a new south tower by Ruby Hospital. IKM is busy designing the project but construction has been pushed back because of an eleventh hour challenge to WVUH’s certificate of need by rival Monongalia Hospital. WVUH is running at 87% occupancy so the need should be demonstrable but the first phase of the project will probably not start work until late 2012 or early 2013, which will push the big pieces of the project out to 2014.

Coupled with the active projects in WVU’s campus master plan, the work at the institutions in northern West Virginia, along with the growing private sector plans to meet demand from the gas industry are making West Virginia an alternative market for Pittsburgh-area firms.

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