Commercial construction in Utah at strong pace despite pandemic

The Salt Lake City skyline rises above construction on the West Quarter, a multiuse development that will feature resident living, retail space and a hotel on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. The development is located at 100 South and 300 West.

The Salt Lake City skyline rises above construction on the West Quarter, a multiuse development that will feature resident living, retail space and a hotel on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. The development is located at 100 South and 300 West. | Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The coronavirus outbreak’s impact on the Utah economy has been varied, with major layoffs in the spring, followed by a slow but relatively steady recovery in the summer in numerous sectors, including construction.

And even with many employers allowing workers to perform their job duties remotely to avoid a COVID-19 spread, the construction industry has maintained a solid pace as building projects continue, particularly in the commercial sector.

“Certainly there are certain sectors of our economy there that are suffering more than others, (like) hospitality, hotels, airlines, restaurants, shopping malls and office can be classified in that to some extent as well,” said Gary Ellis, president of Jacobsen Construction, a Utah-based firm specializing in commercial construction. “Office (construction) has definitely slowed down. People are still trying to figure out whether people will come back or not and what does that look like in the future.”

Jacobsen is currently involved with several projects along the Wasatch Front, including Kensington Tower, West Quarter Tower and Liberty Sky Tower in downtown Salt Lake City, the new Primary Children’s Hospital in Lehi as well as the renovation and restoration of the historic Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ellis said the pandemic will likely bring about some changes in how buildings and workspaces are designed in the near-term future, with fewer high-rise projects and added spacing to avoid crowding among co-workers.

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“Whereas before, people were trying to cram everyone into smaller and smaller spaces, you may see actually larger office buildings in some cases,” Ellis said. “Where the floor plan is of actually larger size so that they can spread people out a little bit and give people a little bit more room.”

Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Construction continues on the West Quarter, a multiuse development that will feature resident living, retail space and a hotel on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. The development is located at 100 South and 300 West.

He said that while some organizations may choose to allow employees the flexibility to work remotely more often in the future, there will eventually be a time when people come back to their collective workspaces even if it may look a different than before the pandemic struck.

“People are going to try and get very creative and try and provide workspaces that bring confidence back to their employees (to show) that they can provide a safe space for them to work,” he said. Once a reliable vaccine is found and individuals can return to the workplace, employers will likely develop a hybrid strategy where employees can work in the office a few days and remotely as well with the aim of reestablishing a strong company culture among the workforce, …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News

      

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