Fort Worth office, retail construction strong, exec says

A. Lee Graham

Construction cranes offer the first clue. So does the proliferation of hardhats. From the mixed-use Clear Fork development to new hospitals and supermarkets, Fort Worth construction has come a long way since a stagnant economy stalled activity. “Things have turned around since the recession,” said Harold Muckleroy, founding partner and CEO of Muckleroy & Falls, a construction firm abuzz with projects. Those include a 25,000-square-foot integration lab for BAE Systems at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, a 39,707-square-foot shelter at Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County and a youth worship area at McKinney Bible Church. Muckleroy found a few minutes to share his insights with the Fort Worth Business Press.

Earlier this year, you mentioned a resurgence in Fort Worth retail and office construction. Is that continuing? Yes, it is. We’ve been fortunate this year to have numerous projects in retail and office, which are two of our market segments that we are active in. I foresee those two continuing to grow and be prosperous for our industry.

Why? We continue to see opportunities in both the negotiated market and the bid market for office and retail projects. We also deal with architects and we know they are active on several projects.

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Is activity widespread in Fort Worth or concentrated on a few specific neighborhoods? It’s widespread. We’re fortunate to live in great community.

What’s fueling the growth? We had such a long recession from roughly 2009 through 2012, and we started coming out of it in 2013. There’s just some pent-up demand. The state of Texas has got a reputation for favoring business, and I think there’s a lot of growth coming that way.

With companies moving to Texas? I’m sure the competition is fierce for states vying for companies to relocate. I’m not aware of specific names, but I know there’s a lot of competition out there.

What types of construction are really booming in Fort Worth? Is there any market segment that’s lagging? No, all of our market segments seem to be doing well. We’re very active. In addition to the financial institutions, corporate expansions and faith-based organizations, it seems to me that the activity is spread across the whole market.

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What are some of Muckleroy & Falls’ big projects these days? We’re active at Alliance [Airport] with BAE Systems; doing Union Gospel Mission, women’s and kids’ facility addition; McKinney Bible Church, for a youth worship area; and numerous corporate projects.

What’s your outlook for commercial construction in Fort Worth? I expect to see continued expansion in the Metroplex. There is pressure from pricing now and the labor market.

What sort of pressure? Our labor market in the Metroplex is fully employed, so as the construction market is up, there will be more and more pressure for contractors to find quality people.